The island’s four major trade unions and the umbrella Barbados Private Sector Association led a protest march through Bridgetown on Monday that attracted a participation of an estimated 20,000 people, a day after Prime Minister Freundel Stuart finally broke his silence on the request by labour and business for talks on an adjustment to the controversial 400 per cent increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL).
Speaking at a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Christ Church West constituency branch event last Sunday, Stuart said that as far as he was concerned, there was currently no real industrial dispute in Barbados to speak of, while making it clear that no government in the world could be run on
the basis of “undisguised blackmail” —
a reference to business/union stance on the NSRL.
“Barbados is run by a constitution and that constitution establishes something called the rule of law. I want to make it very clear here this evening that there is no industrial dispute going on here in Barbados – not one. The only ‘dispute’ when I checked with the Ministry of Labour on Friday that is engaging their attention, is a breakdown in salary negotiations between the Barbados Workers’ Union and the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and that matter has been referred to the Chief Labour Officer and if it breaks down there, it will be referred to the Minister of Labour and if it breaks down there and the minister feels so inclined, she will refer it to the Prime Minister,” he said.
“Apart from that, there is no industrial dispute going on in Barbados between employers and employees,” added Stuart, who earlier had said that Government was committed to paying a wage increase to public officers once it raised the required revenues.
Since then, Stuart has shifted his position and informed the parties involved that an August 18 meeting would now take place one week earlier than the original date for the full social partnership to discuss a number of issues.
However, the rising industrial temperature on the island was overshadowed by this week’s court appearance of three teenagers accused of the murder of Colleen Payne and two alleged accomplices. They were all remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds after appearing at the District “A’ Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Seventeen-year-old Baggio McNeil Boxill of 3rd Avenue Spring Garden, Black Rock, St Michael; 18-year-old Kishon Lemar Anderson Thomas of Nicholls Road, Seaview, St James and 19-year-old Orlando Ricardo Martin of 2nd Avenue, Bibby’s Lane, St Michael were not required to plead to the capital offence of murder.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Darian Reuben Thompson of Oldplow Road, Bagatelle, St Thomas was charged with disposal of clothing and 24-year-old Kyle Donicco Gill of Danesbury, Black Rock, St Michael was charged with disposal of a firearm allegedly used in the murder.
Many screenshots of what appeared to be friends of the accused showed them cheering the five young men after news spread of their remand to prison. They uttered statements like “Free my n***a”, “they can’t hold you forever”, “must come ah a road”. This attitude was met with great disappointment from many readers who generally voiced concern about the direction of the island’s youth.
“There is a huge problem with the youth here today. I see photos in the media of these kids and they appear proud of themselves. This is not an isolated case. I’ve seen it for years now. It used to be that you would see all their teenage friends cheering them on as they board the bus to Dodds,” one reader said
Another reader questioned what was happening in Barbadian society. “Why is this happening? This is so hurtful and hard to bear. What can be done to change the direction of destruction that too many of our young men are taking? They are so young, now are only known as murderers, thugs, criminals.”
The female reader expressed concern that Barbadian youth were being neglected. “We can march about money and taxes, but when will we march as a country for LIVES TAKEN and LIVES RUINED? Our priorities in this country are wrong.”
She added: “We have a mushrooming epidemic of young criminals including senseless murders and attacks on citizens. Our children are angry and clearly neglected by home, school, church and everything that should be helping with their socialization. How can we change this destructive and fatal behaviour? I do not want to be afraid.”
One contributor theorized what may be motivating some young people to resort to these types of crimes. “It’s brand names and quick money”. Another said: “I hate it when innocent people are murdered and I hate it when young strong men are involved. Sad indeed. No point in wishing the worse for them because there is none that can satisfy or be sufficient for the death of an innocent person.”