President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman has rushed to the defence of the local trade union movement in the face of suggestions that it is fast losing its bite.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY ahead of a recent BSTU meeting at Solidarity House, Redman said contrary to such suggestions, not only has her union’s membership been growing steadily, but it was now the largest it has ever been.
“We are up to about 550 members,” said Redman, who assured that the BSTU continues to quietly play an integral role in protecting the employment rights of members.
“The whole issue of appointments both in the secondary and primary schools has been a fight which lasted some time [but] has yielded positive results recently. The thing is with smaller unions like the BSTU, we may not be doing things that people can see on the large scale but a lot of individual member cases we fight and win constantly and that has resulted in the spill over effect of increase membership that we are witnessing,” she explained.
The outspoken workers’ representative went on to throw cold water on the notion that trade unions in general were losing their teeth.
“You hear that constantly but unions are as strong as the perceived support of their membership. To a large extent it is perception and if members do not come out and openly support unions then the unions are not seen to have the teeth that they are supposed to have and those who can will take advantage of what may be simply a perception.
“Sometimes they [those who wish to take advantage] prove themselves wrong when they attempt to tackle a quote unquote weak union, only to discover that the union is much stronger than they initially thought,” she added.