This week I wish to offer a little hodgepodge of reflections. I wish to provide a little update of the members’ meeting at the Barbados Public Workers Co-operative Credit Union (BPWCCUL), reflect on the retrenchment exercise and comments attributed to the General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers Roslyn Smith and an old time pet peeve of mine, the lights cyclists use.
The concerned members of the Barbados Public Workers’ Co-Operative Credit Union (BPWCCUL) were finally able to have the special general meeting they triggered using 87 of Cap 378A of the Co-Operative Societies Act and By-Law 28 of the BPWCCUL By Laws on Monday. I was made to seem like a villain by members of the board and penalized by other members for bringing the board’s business onto the roadways.
I never feel the need to defend myself as long as I feel like I am operating for the things Goddess Ma’at would have. I may feel aggrieved when I am mis-characterized but I never lose resolve. I am not driven by money and for those asking – I do not desire to be elected on the board. I simply wish to see the credit union movement remain as a strong and growing symbol of collective success for black people in Barbados.
The credit union cannot become the play thing of any one person or group of persons. We had a long discussion a few years ago about interlocking directorships in certain groups of companies. We must see that regurgitating members on credit union boards is as dangerous as interlocked directorship and goes against the spirit of the term limits enshrined for credit union leadership in its by-laws.
By members continuing to call and stand for strong corporate governance, we will ensure that we protect our institution and each other. The Supervisory Committee has promised an investigation into questions raised. I await the outcome of that process. Any forward movement will be determined by how seriously the investigation is treated.
I have made the point that money will fix monetary problems in Barbados but it will take a collective and concerted effort to ensure that we pull through the adjustments to come as a society. We have arrived at the phase of retrenchments in the public service. I have seen some calls, albeit from people who are usually bent on misrepresenting women’s issues, for the National Organization of Women (NOW) to put a position on record.
The position of NOW has already been put on record with respect to retrenchment. When the first workers lost their jobs from Beautify Barbados and the National Conservation Commission, NOW at the time, pointed to the historical reality in Barbados that many women are the primary providers in single female-headed households. We pointed to the fact that retrenchments always disproportionately affected women and called for governmental mechanisms to assist, as far as possible, in the fall out.
Ms Smith’s comments about those workers affected by layoffs are consistent with the analysis that NOW would have done in prior cases. What we have to add is that unlike in the case of last phases of Barbados’ economic strategizing, we were offered an audience with the Minister in the Ministry of Finance specifically to discuss how the government’s layoffs would impact women and what the interventions of NOW and the Government would and should be.
At the consultation, Minister [Ryan]Straughn outlined the plans for retraining and retooling workers as well as mechanisms to encourage retrenched works to become entrepreneurs. If the Government of Barbados signals to NOW that there must be a repositioning of the Barbadian economy and if NOW is further asked to assist the Government, what choice do we have? Everybody accepts that layoffs should have been a last resort, but it seems as if Barbados is at the last resort. All of us know how we got here. We procrastinated when we should have been intervening and now here we are. NOW’s role, more than putting a position on the table, is to help Government deliver its promises to displaced women and their households.
I am once again going to use this forum to appeal to individuals in the cycling fraternity to reconsider the lights they are using early in the morning along roadways. I respect that cyclists have to illuminate themselves and also make sure they can see the gaping potholes and other hazards. The challenge is that the bright halogen bulbs being used blind road users like me who wear prescriptions partly for light sensitivity.
When cyclists are riding near a school, the challenge is exacerbated. While they may be trying to create safety, I think they actually go in the other direction and create an even greater hazard. Halogen bulbs, as far as I know, were once banned on roads in Barbados. High-end cars started to come with them as a feature and we have walked away from the issue. I think it is an area those managing our roads must re-examine.
(Marsha Hinds is public relations officer of the National Organization of Women. Email: [email protected])