Political scientist Dr Tennyson Joseph has charged that the political directorate in Barbados has been engaged in the practice of categorizing unionists as “good unionists” and “bad unionists”.
Joseph levelled this charge at the local political directorate last night while addessing the 72nd annual general conference of the National Union of Public Workers at its headquarters
in Dalkeith Road, St Michael.
Joseph, who is head of the Department of Government, Sociology, Social Work and Psychology at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, contended that to the political directorate, “good unionists are the political operatives in trade union clothes who see their role as assisting the Governmentin implementing structural adjustment programmes”.
The outspoken political scientist said: “The good unionists are the ones who believe fervently in the Social Partnership, and strive laboriously to make the Social Partnership work, despite the fact that it may be a cover for legitimizing the disenfranchising of workers.
“The good unionists are the ones who boast at being invited to International Monetary Fund meetings, as if this is an indication of having arrived at a social status never before imagined as possible. The good unionists are the ones who agree that in an economic recession the role of a trade union is to keep wages down and to make the environment as attractive as possible for profit making.”
Joseph went on to say “the good trade unionists” were the ones who did everything in their power to ensure an environment favourable to foreign investment.
At a time when the political directorate is comparing the NUPW’s youthful leadership with that of old trade unionists, like National Hero Sir Frank Walcott, who were seen as responsible,
and not lacking sophistication and going overboard in their eargerness to engage in protest action, Joseph said: “It is a fine and wonderful compliment to the current leadership of the NUPW that in this moment when the call for brave, honest, sincere and genuine pro-worker leadership is at its loudest, that from all indications, you have been categorized, by those who do the categorizing, as bad unionists.”
Expressing further support for the leadership of the NUPW, the political scientist gave the youths the assurance that “history will absolve them”.
Joseph pointed out that as the narrative of their detractors went, the post-2008 recession required patriotism and loyalty from Barbados’ trade unions.
Arguing that the political leadership was calling for conformity at this juncture of the island’s history, Joseph said: “According to that narrative, there are certain inescapable imperatives of our time, and anyone who does not accept those imperatives is . . . unpatriotic, misguided, ideologically stuck in a past age, immature and reckless.”