In days of yon, when democracy was alive and well in this gem of a land we affectionately call ‘Bim’, as a citizenry we were guaranteed to hear from our leader from time to time. But that was also when West Indies cricket meant more to administrators and cricketers than simply the bottomline.
Alas! In days of old, when democracy was truly alive in our country, trade unions stood for workers and Government was made to understand, sometimes the hard way, what happened when trade unions stood.
But frankly speaking, that was when Walcott was boss. Nowadays, it seems our unions are simply off on one trot or another, leaving workers to ‘brek for themselves’ as Government ministers stand tall like ‘dons’, speaking with such testicular fortitude to scare away even an army of 100,000-plus.
No wonder the industrial relations climate is what it is nowadays. In fact, Dennis Clarke can shout as hard as he likes, it seems almost inevitable that when the tempers have cooled, management of the Barbados Community College will do exactly as it pleases in terms of temporary workers and their contracts.
If he doubts us, he could ask his Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union colleague Mary Redman to tell him about her recent Alexandra School experience. But then again, Clarke should be just as familiar as Mrs Redman with that saga which pitted union against union and teacher against principal in what will go down in the annals of history as one sordid mess.
Still, there are lessons from this protracted secondary school embroglio that could prove useful in this environment.
NCC workers had better take note, so too any other group who dares to take the fight to the Government. You could end up wasting a lot of time and energy and in the end still be left asking, ‘where is the justice?”, while a few legal pockets are fattened and the people are none the wiser.
Which brings us to the recent debate on tertiary education.
Sir Hilary may not want us to say this but what is the point of all of this book learning if, in the end, it comes at the expense of critical and independent thought?
Is conformity and conservatism truly the way of the civilized world and the necessary path to our sustainable growth and development?
And must we continue to recoil, even when our treasured norms and values are not only threatened but nearing extinction?
That might best explain why our most erudite Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is yet to utter a single word to Barbadians about Ebola.
It could also explain why people such as David Comissiong and Bobby Clarke are often vilified in this non radical society of ours.
Moreover, it could also explain why Mia Mottley’s Municipal Solid Waste Tax march has yielded nothing more than her delivery to date of a letter to the Prime Minister at high noon.
Do you think Stuart has even opened her letter yet? And why isn’t he accountable at this point?
In a society where might is not seen as right, maybe Minister of Education Ronald Jones will be the hero of our time, or perhaps the entire 20-member gang that agreed to the dismantling of free tertiary education.
In the absence of such, free thought and not textbook ideology regurgitated by men, will reign.
Then we could have a serious discussion about third parties.
And instead of “wishy-washy” statements [economist Ryan Staughan’s words, not ours], maybe we will also return to the days of best democratic practice when Central Bank reports were followed by Press conferences for the purpose of transparency and public clarity on economic issues.