Veteran trade unionist and Independent Senator Sir Roy Trotman today described as “therapeutic” the recent Barbados Labour Party (BLP) March of Disgust, hailing thousands of Barbadians who took to the streets.
“I want to take the time to commend those various persons who engaged in the march. They were not all Barbados Labour Party people, there were some who had no party, and I commend them,” he said, reflecting on the 1991 protests he led against austerity measures which included an eight per cent salary cut imposed by the then Erskine Sandiford-led Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration.
He said that like the 1991 event where an estimated 40, 000 protestors descended on Bridgetown, the recent Opposition-led march “gave a channel for the expression for deep seated concern that persons had.
“I hope that positive ideas and suggestions were voiced during that march and they will prove productive in the exercise of trying to find a solution to our problems.”
Sir Roy insisted this was not the time for any stakeholder to gain “brownie points for what we are able to do”, stressing that the country should follow the lead of the Barbados Private Sector Association which has urged Barbadians to pull together to restore the economy to health.
Noting that island’s economic challenges should not be treated as problems of any of the political parties, the Independent Senator warned that pending elections should take second place to the economy.
“This is a time not for putting the date first, we can put Barbados first and make sure we have a cake and then argue about how to divide the cake, and I think it is very important that we understand this.”
Insisting that the trade union movement had a key role to play in returning Barbados to growth, the former Barbados Workers Union (BWU) boss lamented that the tripartite Social Partnership was no longer effective because the partners had dropped the ball.
“When the social dialogue exercise was planned . . . the intention was to have four major meetings in the year. When we started to see our way forward we have had zero meetings in many years of the social partnership, so that now in 2017 we are having now to put forward proposals for quarterly meetings.”
Sir Roy warned that where there was no sharing, there would be no commitment to dealing with common problems.
He however pledged that the BWU remained committed to working with employers, Government and relevant sectors to make Barbados viable and strong for everybody.
“ We have changed the guard, we have not change the principles,” he said.