Former President of the Police Association Hartley Reid has accused the new leadership of the trade union movement in Barbados of turning industrial relations “on its head” by making strike action the first option in industrial disputes.
Reid made this observation on Friday while delivering the Astor B Watts lunchtime lecture at the headquarters of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) on George Street, St Michael.
“Out went the old guard who understood the importance of the social partnership and in came leaders who are younger and were unaware of the importance of the social,” Reid said while arguing that the new leadership of the trade union movement have not served their apprenticeship.
“The problem has arisen because all of the leadership of the trade union movement have started at the top. We have a young generation who did not spend time to understand the nuances, the workings and how things were done in industrial relations,” Reid added.
He told his audience that the social partnership and the sub-committee of the social partnership were set up in the early 1990s to ensure that the island’s industrial relations climate remain civil.
Reid went on to say that the social partnership is made up of the Government, the trade union movement and the private sector.
Reid charged that under new leadership Barbados now has a situation where the last resort in industrial relations – strike action – is spoken of first.
The retired police officer argued that if there is no communication in a dispute “utter chaos and madness” would ensue, but he said the current situation in Barbados is one where nobody wants to sit and talk through a dispute.
He recalled that the President of the NUPW, Akanni Mc Dowall had given Prime Minister Freundel Stuart an ultimatum of 48 hours, which ended at midnight Thursday night, to repeal the National Social Responsibility Levy failing which he would bring him to “a Christian understanding”.
Reid cautioned the leadership of the NUPW to be careful in their actions because all unions are made up of DLP and Barbados Labour Party members.
Reid, who was a former 1st Vice President of CTUSAB, cautioned workers that unions in Barbados do not have strike funds and employers do not have to pay workers who withdraw their labour.