The island’s oldest trade union is contending that Barbadian workers are no longer willing to put it all on the line to protect the gains achieved through the sacrifices of their predecessors.
According to the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) there is much cynicism and apathy among the labour movement because today’s workers did not relate to those involved in the workers’ uprisings of the late 1930s.
“Many of you assembled here today, as well as some of you not so young ones, may regard the changes and freedoms that were won for you over the past 70 plus years as less significant today. This is because many of us can’t connect since we came into work life with all of its freedoms. So some don’t show appreciation for what was required to bring us here,” General Secretary Toni Moore told today’s launch of the BWU’s May Day 2018 programme.
Moore charged that many workers were “just sitting back and complaining” while their freedoms were being eroded.
At the same time she said contrary to what some may think due to perceptions of limited successes of the trade union movement in recent years, the relevance of the unions has not waned in the modern workplace.
“You need the unions as much as the unions need you. I must caution you that every gain that we have made, whether it is the freedom to bargain collectively or the freedom to vote, has been won by the blood sweat and tears not only of past labour leaders but by the masses of workers who stood by their side and were always willing to risk everything so that today’s generation can enjoy the fruits.”
“Regrettably too many young people and too many older people in our workforce appear to have become cynical and overly fearful so that they resort to just sitting back and complaining as they watch their freedoms gradually ebb away. It is in this season that we ask you observe that the political and other changes that followed across the Caribbean occurred only because the workforce across the region all stood up and took action,” Moore stressed.
The BWU boss insisted that the days of sitting on the fence were over, adding that workers in both the private and public sectors were under threat.
She also had a strong message for “those who want to keep workers in a state of subjugation and poverty”, warning they would not succeed if the employees stand up and fight for their rights.
“Let me warn you that those who want to keep workers in a state of subjugation and poverty in this country, will only be able to do so if the workers fail to stand up and fight for the justice we deserve . . . . In 2018 there are things we have been experiencing that reinforce the obligation of the trade union to defend your interest to stave off the less than subtle attacks on the many gains that were won by early labour leaders. We are seeing this not only in the private sector but also in the public sector,” the BWU boss said.