General secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Sir Roy Trotman, is giving ominous hints that the union may still confront the Government head-on regarding layoffs in the public sector –– and soon.
In a sometimes feisty address to workers on May Day yesterday, the retiring general secretary showed that in his last hurrah there was a willingness to take on, not only the administration, but also any organization or person crossing the path of Barbadian workers.
He described radio commentators as “wishy-washy”, related how in recent weeks the National Conservation Commission had given him the runaround when it came to talks on how workers may be sent home, and attacked the leadership of the umbrella private sector organization.
This unionist, who gave some 43 years’ service and is departing this year, indicated that if necessary, a fight with employers might be just around the corner.
“If the battlefield happens to be before us in May or June 2014, because they continue to treat people like dirt, that may not be the only battlefield that we have,” Sir Roy warned in his address to workers at Browne’s Beach, following a march from The Garrison.
“Trade unions, particularly in Barbados, will have to bear in mind that the battle is not won in a day or two, because the battle is like a race, and the race is not for the swift, the battle is not for the strong; it is those who are prepared to endure even down to the end.
“This is what the trade union is about, and those wish-washy commentators who will tell you in their programmes from Monday back to Monday that there is no need for workers to stand up for their rights, let me tell you that if you don’t stand up for your rights, you’re going to be kicked about by those who don’t believe you deserve any rights.
“But you have to pick the right time. Only an idiot chooses just any time to fight.”
The possible confrontation may arise from a stand-off happening today between the NCC and its workers, which Sir Roy said had a history, reaching back nine weeks, with board members dodging the union on the matter of layoffs.
The leader of Barbados’ most powerful trade union detailed how he had been shifting his schedule to suit frequently postponed meetings called by the NCC board to discuss retrenchment.
Sir Roy explained the union’s position.
“We are not opposed to laying off people; we are opposed to layoffs without proper consultation.”
He said that amid frequent messages of rescheduled meetings, he had made clear his willingness to be available at any time.
“Go back and tell them I will rearrange my programme; the general secretary will be there.”
He said following this assurance, the next message received was that the meeting was indefinitely postponed.
He noted that workers were subsequently sent home.
In an hour-long feature address, Sir Roy also levelled strong criticisms against the leadership of the private sector, saying: “If a man disrespects the Social Partnership at the level of the Prime Minister, makes a commitment and refuses to honour [it], is then elevated by his peers to become a leader in that group, what is it that the group is saying to the rest of us?”