The country’s police officers say they have waited much too long for the right to join trade unions, and they want Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to end the delay.
President of the Barbados Police Association ((BPA) Mervin Grace said it had been 15 years since changes to the Police Act Cap 167 was approved by Parliament, paving the way for police officers to become members of trade unions.
However, he said nothing had been done since to give effect to the Act.
“From then to now the amendment has not been proclaimed. It is only awaiting the signature of the Governor General of Barbados. We are respectfully requesting the Attorney General to work with alacrity to have this piece of legislation proclaimed and allow us to be able to associate with our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement,” Grace told the BPA’s annual general meeting yesterday.
Speaking passionately about the issue, Grace said it was unfortunate that in one breath police officers were being reminded that they were not special, yet when it suited certain objectives they were being described as different from the rest of the public service.
He also assured Brathwaite that the officers were not seeking the right to strike.
“There is nothing in the amendment which allows members of the Barbados Police Association to strike or take industrial action and it is not our intention to incite such. The amendment is very specific,” he said.
The BPA head said the association had addressed the matter with the Attorney General in written correspondence in 2012, and at meetings in 2014 and 2016, but to no avail.
However, while delivering remarks at the same event held at Prince Cave Hall of the District A Police Station, Brathwaite said while he had no problem with the Act being amended, he needed to research why it had not been proclaimed 15 years after it was passed.
In fact, the Attorney General admitted that he did not know there was a problem until a representative from the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados wrote about it.
He said it was that letter that prompted him to summon a meeting with the BPA.
“You may recall that I said in the meantime if you might have a problem associating with similar organizations, that I will speak to the Commissioner of Police Acting and make sure that he will make it as easy as possible for you to attend meetings.
“What I would say is that’s not to say that all 15 of you should go off every week to CTUSAB meetings because you are police officers first and trade unionists second,” Brathwaite warned.