The island’s oldest trade union has issued a chilling warning to workers that their rights were being undermined by unnamed people who were attempting to sabotage the labour movement.
In an impassioned rallying cry at Wednesday morning’s “March of Respect” organized by the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Toni Moore said that even today there were efforts to undermine a sister union.
“As we speak there is a move on in another union to destabilize not only that union, but the entire trade union movement, and we have to be mindful of these attacks as they come, some more subtle than others, some more blatant than others, and we have to be mindful to stand for our rights.
“If workers of Barbados don’t stand and take note and don’t take a stand for what is important to us, we will very well find that we are only speaking in historical terms of how things use to be when workers had rights,” Moore said.
The BWU boss did not name the union to which she referred, nor did she offer specifics to support her claim.
However, it was an apparent reference to the National Union of Public Workers, which was today holding internal elections after a bitter campaign of mudslinging between the incumbent president Akanni McDowall and Deputy General-Treasurer Roy Greenidge.
McDowall had repeatedly claimed that the Freundel Stuart administration was seeking to interfere in the election in order to install a regime that would not hold the administration’s feet to the fire.
Recently, both Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner accused union leaders of being in bed with the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Without naming McDowall, who had participated in the BLP-organized “March of Disgust” against Government’s handling of the economy, Jones had referred to the union leader’s team for the internal poll as Team BLP.
Her concerns notwithstanding, Moore was full of praise for the BSTU, saying today’s march – held primarily to press the case for payment to mark school-based assessment projects administered by the Caribbean Examination Council – had struck a blow for union solidarity.
She urged the public to acquaint themselves with the facts before jumping to conclusions, arguing that while teachers had shown restraint by staging the march on a day which would result in minimal disruption, tougher action would have been justified.
“Even if action was taken in a different format that it would have been more disruptive to classes, I believe that it would have been justified by now. The Barbados Workers’ Union has been following the trail of correspondence between the Ministry of Education, Personnel Administration Division and BSTU and we know that action would be justified. Our hope is that today that the Ministry of Education, parents themselves, who see this mainly as how it impacts their children, these same parents are workers and are members of unions throughout Barbados,” the BWU General Secretary said.
Just this week social activist David Comissiong had told Barbados TODAY there was “an open conspiracy” against the trade union movement by Government and the private sector.
Comissiong had also charged that the plot also involved other “collaborators” who use coded language such as “privatization”, “down-sizing of the public sector”, “retrenchment of public workers” and “pain” in their attacks on the labour movement and workers.