General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Toni Moore today hit back at Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman’s charge that opponents to the proposed Hyatt hotel were “enemies of the State”, while warning that the island’s democracy was under threat.
Kellman issued the statement in Parliament last week, and while he did not call any names, it was a clear reference to attorney-at-law and social activist David Comissiong, who has taken legal action against the multi-million dollar project.
Moore told the annual May Day parade at Browne’s Beach that while the workers of Barbados have had to carry more than their fair share of the effects of the economic downturn over the past five years, “it is scary when in challenging times, economic forces seem to be positive only in the direction of a privileged few.
“And dare we speak out against the inequity even on the basis of wanting to verify the environmental integrity of certain decisions, we are deemed enemies of the State,” she said.
“Brothers and sisters we are deemed enemies of the state for speaking out, but the enemy that we should be aware of and be afraid of is the enemy of our democracy. That which wishes to tell us that we can’t see wrong and speak about it for fear of recrimination.
“So, we must see backdoor methods being adopted in hotel construction and we must be quiet. We must witness approvals to establish a new berth in the Bridgetown Port, and we must see attempts to introduce new ways of doing things down in the port so that port work is no longer for port workers, and we can’t say anything. We must not speak up and become enemies of the state. So we must know that there seems to be a concerted attempt, a deliberate ploy to run down the fleet of buses to make way for a new system to be justified, but shush General Secretary, don’t say anything if you are a friend of the state,” Moore charged.
The union leader said that while the BWU believes that citizens must accept their fair share of responsibility for the future they want, the union could not accept that overburdening public servants was equal to giving them a fair share.
She pointed to the upcoming Budget, which is expected to be presented before the end of this month, in which she said Barbadians would be asked to make even further sacrifices.
“Public servants for almost a decade now have not received a salary increase but what makes this situation more unpalatable is that public servants will be asked to accept further wage restraint and brace themselves for some bitter pills all in the name of responsibility when at the same time the leaders in Government put back on a ten per cent [on their salaries], which was taken off as a show of identifying with the people, a show of bearing pain as the people have been bearing. . .
“So, we will not apologize to the leaders or as [late trade union leader] Sir Frank [Walcott] would have said, ‘the creatures of Government’ when we challenge that the Government of Barbados has failed to demonstrate leadership.”
In her hard hitting statement, she insisted that Government should not expect some of the lowest paid workers to sacrifice more, while at the same time “they are grabbing and brekkin’ fuh themselves”.
“Who then are the real villains of the economy? Is the social justice when our leaders refuse to demonstrate the standards that match the circumstance; the standards that will assure our stability and our sustainability. The demand for a bigger pension is not the standard that matches the circumstance,” the BWU leader added.