Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn has criticized the leadership of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) calling them “political prostitutes” over their acceptance of a paltry 4.5 per cent pay offer from the less than two-week-old Mia Mottley-led Government.
Barbados TODAY understands that the union, which had been demanding a 23 per cent pay hike from the last administration, in a significant change of heart today agreed to a two per cent increase in the first year, 1.5 per cent in the second and one per cent in the third for the 2016 to 2019 negotiating period.
The decision came during an hour-long meeting of the NUPW’s national council at its Dalkeith headquarters today.
However, reacting to the union’s apparent U-turn, Franklyn argued that the membership of the NUPW ought to call the executive to account, while accusing the union’s leadership of using the workers’ plight to accomplish political ends.
“Remember these were the same people saying that they wanted 23 per cent and that they were not backing down from that position. It reeks of nastiness and political nastiness at that. The [last] Government was unpopular and union tried to make it even worse. The membership of the NUPW needs to make their leadership give account,” said Franklyn in his typical unabashed manner.
The Opposition Senator went further to accuse the NUPW leadership of using its influence to attempt to bring down the former Freundel Stuart administration, which was decimated in the May 24 general election in which it failed to hold on to a single seat.
He also argued that had the NUPW’s offer been reasonable in the first place, workers would have received a pay hike a long time ago.
“Maybe if the NUPW had offered Stuart 4.5 per cent they would have reached a settlement a long time ago. But they didn’t want a settlement, they wanted a change of Government. I too am happy that the Government has been changed, but at the same time I would not have done anything using my union to help to effect that because that is not our role,” said Franklyn, who is also the leader of the Unity Workers Union.
“It is really shameful and the members need to call them to account. If they get into bed with this Government now, when this Government starts operating in manner they don’t like, are they going to get into bed with somebody else? They [NUPW] are prostitutes for political gain and God knows what else they going to get,” the trade unionist added.
With the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government in office for just two weeks, Franklyn also expressed suspicion over how quickly a deal was reached on this long running issue.
“To come down from 23 per cent to 4.5 per cent is like dropping off a cliff. Everybody knew that the [previous] Government was mismanaging the economy and that the whole country was going to hell in a handcart, yet they [NUPW] insisted on 23 per cent.
“I can’t say if this Government is being reasonable, but you can’t just settle in one meeting after elections. It smells like a bag of rotten shrimp,” he stressed.