Fabian Jones, who led a team of candidates in a failed bid for leadership of the country’s largest public sector trade union is down, but not out after losing Wednesday’s election to the incumbent president Akanni McDowall.
In fact, Jones has already signaled his intention to run for president in the union’s next election, slated for 2021, arguing that voter behavior in the recent election indicated that the union desperately wanted change.
“The plan is to remain involved in my union,” Jones said in an interview. On Thursday, he told Barbados TODAY that his intention was to run for a position on the union’s divisional committee.
“I will still be seeking to sit on national council to offer whatever input I can to my union. I plan to regroup for the next two years, because I plan to try for the presidency again.
“I still plan to push the plans, policies and proposals I made during my campaign, because during the time that I was involved, I have seen what the problem was. The internal machinery needs a certain harmony that if working, would significantly reduce the apathy that we see in the union,” he said.
Jones, who amassed 292 votes lost to McDowall by just 62 votes. The two previously ran as a team back in 2017 when McDowall successfully ran for president and Jones for vice president.
While Jones wished the new executive well, he pointed to the low voter turnout and slim margin of victory by McDowall as an indication that members had developed a disturbing sense of apathy.
“Members are extremely apathetic and there was clearly a vote for change because Akanni won by almost 500 with over 1,000 votes last time. This time, he was only able to amass hundreds.
“There were three people running against him and their cumulative votes were around 700. That means that twice as many people voted against him than for him so there was clearly a vote for change.
“I believe I received a good proportion of the split vote, which would explain why the margin was so narrow,” said Jones who noted his pleasure with the strides made and expressed confidence that he would be successful in the future.
“During the campaign, the feedback was awesome and people clearly wanted change, but that of course needs to translate into a vote.”
Going forward, he urged union leaders to once again become involved in more social issues and to take on a greater role in regional trade union advocacy.
“We need to form more alliances with regional trade union bodies and try to lead at that level because we have one of the oldest public service trade unions in this region.
“We need to hear the union on wider social issues. The union needs to be in the community a bit more and distribute fliers and engage the membership a bit more.”
Jones also called for constitutional amendments, which would make a greater distinction between the role of the president and general secretary, to prevent the types of public disputes seen in recent times.
“I just want to wish the new leadership well and I hope that they consider all the positions brought by all of the candidates who ran in the election,” said Jones.