The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Shadow Minister of Labour Dwight Sutherland yesterday accused the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government of deliberately trying to remove President of the National Union of Public Workers Akanni McDowall.
In a press release issued on the eve of a members’ meeting to consider a motion of no-confidence against McDowall, Sutherland, the Member of Parliament (MP) for St George South, said the move was an attempt to influence forthcoming pay negotiations for public servants, for whom McDowall was seeking a 23 per cent increase, as well as the planned rationalization of statutory boards.
The first-term parliamentarian said at a time when the NUPW should be gathering strength to address the vexing question of salary and wage increases, it was being saddled with a leadership struggle.
Sutherland recalled that during last month’s House of Assembly debate of the Opposition no-confidence motion against the DLP administration, he had warned that the ruling party was deliberately trying to remove McDowall from office.
He contended that those who did not believe him at the time would recognize now that it had become an imperative for the DLP to get the trade union movement back in its hands at this critical moment in the life of the administration, which faces a general election in another year and half.
The St George South MP recalled that there was no hint of a lack of confidence in the leadership of the NUPW when thousands of workers were unceremoniously sent home two years ago, sometimes in breach of the last in, first out principle. McDowall was not at the helm then.
Examining the historical “marriage” between the BLP and the trade union movement in Barbados, Sutherland said the history of the party was intrinsically linked to the trade union movement. He called on all interested parties to recognize “these crass attempts to control and manipulate the largest public sector union in the country”.
“We must reject out of hand the politics of stealth and back-room dealings that have come to characterize and define [this] administration. We in the BLP are asking for a fair deal for public sector workers who wish to have their salaries and wages “restored” to reasonable amounts after over eight years of sacrifice,” Sutherland said.