Just eight months after the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) threatened to leave the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), another union is reconsidering its membership of the alliance.
The president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), Mary Redman revealed that while her union’s gripes were not with the whole umbrella body, she singled out one CTUSAB official in particular for jeopardizing the entire coalition of workers’ advocates.
“I would like to turn your attention to difficulties that we are having with particularly one officer of CTUSAB. It is not only the BSTU because there are other organizations inside CTUSAB that are experiencing the same difficulties,” said Redman in delivering the president’s address to open the union’s activities for Teachers’ Professional Day, at Solidarity House.
The BSTU president further explained that at the heart of the matter is “one officer in particular who does not understand how his behaviour and his words have the potential effect of destroying that organization.
“We may have to seriously assess our relationship with CTUSAB if that person continues in that same vein and in that same position,” she warned.
Without naming the offending party or position, Redman accused the officer of behaving as if the organization was a personal club by seeking to change established procedure, which has served the organization in good stead over the years.
“There was an attempt to change how the CTUSAB representatives on the boards of management are chosen. Traditionally the two teachers’ unions were instrumental in choosing the board reps. That did not mean that we limited our choices to teacher’s union members, we included other unions as well.
“In the last set of nominations, five of the 21 nominees were in no way affiliated to teachers’ trade unions and three of those nominees came from the BSTU. Now there is this attempt to change all of that at a time when we are seeking to undo all of the damage that has been done to education,” Redman complained.
The trade unionist also described how former BSTU general secretary Patrick Frost was grossly disrespected at a CTUSAB meeting.
“This person looked at Patrick Frost and told him that he ‘always talking foolishness’ during a formal CTUSAB meeting because Patrick was simply trying to explain how it has always been done. As recently as last night, the same individual wanted to put Patrick out of a meeting, claiming he was not invited. He also wanted to put out the Fire Service Association because they had two people attending, an upset Redman said.
Last February, the NUPW National Council narrowly voted down a motion to leave CTUSAB. At the time, some in the NUPW executive were upset after the umbrella body refused to support protests against the then Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration.
CTUSAB’s then leader Cedric Murrell was unequivocal in saying that its membership would have nothing to do with the anti-Government demonstration.
“CTUSAB has no mandate from its members for any action and that is not being contemplated. Our approach is to understand or try to come to grips with the economic straits this country is in, and to seek within that understanding what is best for the country and our members. That is something we can arrive at through [the] process of dialogue and communication. We don’t believe we can arrive at that by confrontation,” Murrell had said in a radio interview.
Had the motion been successful, the NUPW would have ceased to belong to CTUSAB, making it the second major trade union to leave the grouping since it was launched in 1995.