The head of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) is accusing some companies of disrespecting the bargaining process, one day after similar charges were levelled by the president of the Confederation of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).
Addressing the opening of the BWU’s Errol Barrow Day celebrations this morning at the Barbados Labour College, General Secretary Toni Moore indicated that the approach of partnership seems not to be working for them as they represent the workers of the country, “not because we have changed, not because we have withdrawn the right hand of cooperation but because one hand can’t clap”.
Moore, the union’s first female General Secretary, hailed recent negotiations between BWU and the management of the Massy Group of companies as an example of effective partnership.
However, she said that in many instances it seems that partnership and cooperation have retreated, because those with whom the union negotiate as the representative voice of constituents are trying to force new results “while reintroducing old, bad and previously fought behaviours”.
“Workers at BHL had a number of challenges, one of which was protracted negotiations that were going nowhere in a hurry. The workers across that group went out on one day, about 15 months ago and the management which claimed ignorance to the Union’s concerns has since woken up in many areas.
“While there are still a number of wrinkles which need some ironing, there is renewed show of respect for workers in most areas across the group,” she said, pointing to a similar situation at the Transport Board.
Moore also referred to protest action by Central Bank workers four months ago, in protest of what she called “a fundamental breach”.
Another example, she noted, was two months ago when workers at Apes Hill were forced to withhold their labour after unsuccessful efforts to get their employer to meet the Union at the negotiating table.
“I would say only that the days of workers being treated as worthless pieces of chattel should be reserved for the history of struggle which has been overcome,” she declared.
Moore noted that in each of the cases mentioned, the union won the battle only because of its strength in numbers and because of the workers’ resolve.
She also highlighted other issues affecting workers, which she says the BWU will address.
“So to the workers of the American University of Barbados where there is the struggle for union recognition, to the workers at Sandy Lane who deserve your rightful due in monies owed as employees at the only diamond star establishment on the island.
“To the workers at G4S where the code of good practice as it relates to employment equity is observed only in the breach, and to the workers who continue to suffer on because they desire change but who fear being the change they want to see, this union can and will continue to defend your interest. But our success will require the tried and tested formula that has driven our success throughout our history,” Moore said.