“I don’t see where Walcott is; he is flying
past his nest.”
This response is from general secretary of
the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU),
Sir Roy Trotman, to claims from the
executive director of the Barbados Employers
Confederation (BEC), Tony Walcott.
Walcott, in a statement earlier this week,
described recent consultations involving
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and other
key ministers in his administration with top
representatives of the National Union of Public
Workers [NUPW] and the BWU, focused on
the Government’s plan to send home over
3,000 public sector employees by the end of
the first quarter of this year as “a major threat
to the structure and future functioning of the
Social Partnership mechanism”.
Walcott further noted that meetings of
“arbitrarily selected business organizations
with the political leadership” could not be considered as
meetings with the total Barbados private sector.
Sir Roy told reporters yesterday that he was intrigued
by the BEC head’s comments to the effect that they should
have been at the meeting, since the talks held between the
unions and the Government officials was not a meeting
of a Social Partnership.
“It was a meeting of the employer, in this case being
the Government, and the representatives of the workers
themselves from the two trade unions [the BWU and the
NUPW]. If there were other trade unionists that made
that statement, I could listen to them and I think I could
hear them. I think they would understand that, in the same
way that they are desirous of being present; that when Mr
Clarke spoke to me and we agreed, that we as BWU had
a meeting and he had one, that we would meet together
that we were concerned because our two unions were the
unions which are going to be hit by this.
“It is already known that teachers are not going to be
hit, prison officers are not going to be hit, police are not
going to be hit, nurses are not going to get hit, so the two
unions and the membership of the two unions that are the
only unions involved in this were the ones that were able to
meet,” Sir Roy said, explaining that if someone else wanted
to get involved that was not a problem.
“ . . . But then the big question is how does the
Employer’s Confederation fit into an exercise where
another employer is discussing reducing his staff with the
trade union movement? If tomorrow we have a meeting
that involves Dacosta’s, or that involves, you name it, Banks
. . . is the BEC saying that they should be involved when the
BWU sits down with the management of Banks Breweries?”
the union boss questioned.
Meantime, Sir Roy has again issued a warning that the
plan by Government to retrench over 3,000 civil servants
by month-end will have equally devastating repercussions
within the island’s private sector. He said, taking that into
account, he made the recommendation that a mechanism
similar to what was employed back in 1991, be considered.
“[T]ry to get a body of people who are interested,
who have Barbadian roots, who are going to demonstrate
that they are ready to look at different levels to do what
we did in 1991. When we did that there was no criticism
about it [when we established the Foreign Exchange
Committee]. That committee worked very well chaired by
Sir Maurice King and with the late Sir John Stanley Goddard
and myself as co-chairs.
“Nobody lamented that that was being done and it was
not seen as cutting across the intentions of anybody else to
help. [But] very often, when people hear suggestions coming
from people they don’t like they will find all kinds of ways
to poo paw it,” Sir Roy stated.
He said what was needed now were ways to
resuscitate the economy, and everyone needed to
concentrate on immediate and medium term efforts, before
looking longer term.
“Any effort we can make in that direction to have people
earn and have them take care of their families is an effort
that we must support.
“That is why we called for it. The Government says it
is interested in doing it. Now, if there are people who feel
they want to be involved, talk to the Government,”
he added. (RG)