The woman who retiring general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Sir Roy Trotman handpicked to succeed him is being challenged for the top post.
Deputy General Secretary Toni Moore will now have to face off against 41-year veteran of the BWU, Veronica Griffith, who is also a deputy general secretary, at the union’s annual conference on September 6.
Sir Roy assured today the conference was “free to choose” and “there was no attempt to by-pass the democratic process”.
Back in January he had announced that Moore, who has been with the BWU for a decade, was chosen by the executive council on his nomination.
“She will be the person that we are presenting and projecting to the public as the person that we wish to groom for possible ascendency to the office of General Secretary when the election is held,” he said at the time.
However, at a Press conference at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters today, Sir Roy said Griffith has expressed an interest in being the one to lead the BWU after his departure.
He made it clear, though, that Moore was being groomed for the position for some time along with another young trade unionist, Julian Hunte, who subsequently left the union to go into the private sector.
“The position of the executive council was not a position arrived at in January this year. The position of January was re-confirmation of a position taken in May 2009. At that time, the council took a decision that it would look at the staffing it had and those persons it knew had an interest. The council would look at their ages and decide on what kind of position it would want to take to the conference on the day regarding persons who were adequately prepared,” he explained.
“ . . . We made the suggestion that two persons, both of whom were in their 30s at the time, should be fast tracked, trained and prepared for the occasion where we would offer the person to the membership. Another officer in a different age range had expressed an interest in contesting the position. That officer’s age is significantly different and what we were arguing at the time was that whoever takes over the position of general secretary will need to grow in the job. It was felt that after that person grows in the job, that person should have enough time to give good dedicated service free from having to depend on anyone’s crutches. Moore, who is 38, was chosen five years ago to be trained.”
Although not identifying Hunte by name, the veteran trade unionist said a young man was also identified for training, but he had since left the union in search of “greener pastures”.
Explaining the decision to identify successors: “If you are going to run a business, and a union is a business, you have to run it with long-term planning. We planned for the succession at the Labour College where we knew that the principal was going and we put someone in training five years before. We home grew the person.”
Hunte, who is group human resources manager in charge of industrial relations at Goddard Enterprises, declined to comment on the development.
Regardless of the outcome of the vote at the union’s 73rd Annual Delegates Conference, the BWU will have its first female leader in its 73 years of existence.
Former deputy general secretary of the union, Robert Bobby Morris told Barbados TODAY: “Whoever wins, I wish them well. I wish the union continued success as it goes forward.”
While general secretary of the Unity Workers Union, Caswell Franklyn, said he did not “have a difficulty with a woman assuming the office of general secretary of any union”, he was concerned that Moore was not experienced enough.
“The problem here is that we are going to have a neophyte and at this time when the country is struggling and workers are being disadvantaged we need someone who can hit the ground running,” he told Barbados TODAY.