The National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) is not the only thing that the Barbados Workers Union wants to talk to Government about.
In a statement Friday, the BWU, which has been among unions clamouring for urgent talks on the NSRL over the past two weeks, appeared to be shifting its focus somewhat as it appealed for national dialogue on another vexed issue – that of rising domestic crime.
On the heels of the latest murder – the 20th so far this year – of 34-year-old Closton Robinson of Parish Land, Christ Church, who died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after being shot in the wee hours of this morning, as well as several other worrying violent incidents, the executive council of the union said urgent action was needed to head-off the spiraling crime cycle, “particularly the use of firearms, by segments of the youth in Barbados”.
The union also made a special appeal to the ministries of Culture, Sports and Youth, Education, and Community Development, to initiate the dialogue with the help of the judiciary, the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Church, parent-teacher associations, guidance counselors, the University of the West Indies and like organizations.
“The BWU is deeply concerned over the recent spate of lawlessness among our youth, especially crimes committed by the use of firearms, cutlasses and knives, and suggests that there may be underlying weaknesses in parenting styles which may be added to the environmental influences such as the move away by some families from the spiritual influence of the Church, the putrid influences of the mass media, and particularly the unbridled social media, as well as the narcotics and gun culture,” the statement said.
This past week, three teenagers were charged with the murder of 58-year-old Colleen Beresdean Payne of Lodge Hill, with two other young men accused of aiding and abetting them.
Payne was attempting to use the Royal Bank of Canada’s automated teller machine at University Drive, Black Rock, St Michael around 9 p.m. on July 17 when she met her death.
Last Wednesday, residents of Deacons Farm, St Michael got a rude awakening as the sound of unbridled gunfire took hold of the community in the dead of the night. At the end of the worrying gunplay, no one was injured but several power lines were affected, throwing sections of the community deeper into darkness.
In the wake of those incidents as well as the killing of Robinson, who was apparently involved in an altercation with another man between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m. Friday morning when he was shot in the head, the BWU urged “speedy and purposive action by the state aimed at diagnosing the problems and seeking to find workable, corrective action to halt this corrosive behaviour that has the potential to create disorder, and undermine our country’s stability and development”.
It said it recognized that Barbados, like the rest of the world, had undergone significant change, and had embraced some of the positive as well as some of the negative lifestyles of the developed world.
“Barbados had undergone significant transformation from what was a village culture into a rugged urbanized society. [This] has produced some the same social problems, which this type of development manifests in the metropolitan cities. It is therefore important that our institutions begin to reshape their thinking and their programmes so as to effectively deal with the issues at hand.
“We believe, among other matters, that we must have a serious and in-depth look at our primary institutions such as the family, on the one hand, as well as other societal influences, such as the mass media, on the other hand,” the statement concluded.