The nation’s oldest trade union has declared it’s moving to expand its role in the lives of its members in a marriage of education with renewable energy.
Barbados Workers’ Union General Secretary Senator Toni Moore revealed that the union is in talks with international partners on several major projects aimed at training workers.
Senator Moore announced that the BWU Labour College was looking at the possibility of getting involved in energy projects and other hands-on training opportunities.
While not giving details, she said the plan was in the embryonic stages and at least three local companies have already shown an interest in forming a partnership.
She said: “Education is a big part of what we have been doing from the early 1980’s and that is not only teaching people about organizing and about collective bargaining.
“So to a large extent we teach people about life… and preparing people for jobs of the future and how things will change.
“Right now, the Barbados Workers’ Union is very focused on transitioning.
“We are looking at renewable energy. We have about 30 acres of unused land at the labour college that we are looking to get into energy projects so that we can use our physical educational training institution to do theoretical study and then hopefully we can utilize that land in a way that workers can also get hands-on into some of the changing opportunities that may be available to them.”
Senator Moore made the disclosure while taking part in a panel discussion during the final day of last week’s inaugural Smart Barbados conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
She said while the union would continue to represent workers’ rights, it was also cognizant of the need to partner with organizations to help workers develop their skills.
“So promoting education as an important strategy of decent work.
“We are not only interested in opportunities being created but we are a trade union interested in, and ensuring that, decent work opportunities exist. What do I mean by decent work?
“Social dialogue has to be a part of it, so workers must have a chance to input into it.
“Decent work opportunities mean that we don’t trade off social protection benefits just for new opportunities.”