General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) Dennis Depeiza has put the membership on notice that there will be no deviation from its governance structure.
His comment was in response to claims made last week by president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman who said that her union would reconsider its membership to the umbrella body.
On Friday, 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.
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.
However when asked by Barbados TODAY this morning to respond to Redman’s concerns, Depeiza, made it clear that he will not be ventilating the organization’s internal matters in public but insisted that there was nothing wrong with te manner in which CTUSAB functioned.
“We will always function based on our rules and our regulations . . . . That is how we are and I think that word should go forth because anything contrary to that is not setting good examples and we all will end up in anarchy and the congress is not about that. We want to suggest that we practice and live by what we preach,” said Depeiza during a meet and greet session at the Barbados Union of Teachers’ headquarters at Welches, St Michael.
In an effort to downplay the issues CTUSAB president Edwin O’Neale who was elected to the post just last month, contended that such quarrels were par for the course. However, he suggested that the BSTU leadership should embrace the art of give and take and therefore direct their energies to overall interest of the workers.
“The business of trade unions, political parties, cricket teams are all about strong personalities but equally for either of these entities to be successful there must be a level of cooperation. From my vantage point it is for me to direct those energies towards workers’ representation and not about powerplays. In any group that is about volunteerism the tide is going to shift from time to time. Sometimes it goes my way and other times it doesn’t,” he contended.
The BSTU president had explained that at the heart of the matter was “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.
But the BSTU has not been the only union to threaten to part company with CTUSAB. Earlier this year the National Union of Public Workers’ (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 reported to have said at the time 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. In 2013, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) withdrew its membership from CTUSAB due to the deteriorating relationship between the entities.