by Randy Bennett
For the second time in six years Toni Moore has created history in Barbados.
After becoming the first woman to lead the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) in 2014, Moore will become the first woman to represent the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the constituency of St George North.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that Moore will be the BLP’s candidate in the upcoming by-election following the decision by Gline Clarke to vacate the seat on September 30.
Speaking tonight at the BLP’s Roebuck Street, St Michael headquarters, Mottley said following a meeting of the party’s National Executive Council, Moore had been the “unanimous choice at all levels of the party” to replace Clarke.
Describing her as a “strong woman”, the Prime Minister said the BWU general secretary would not be the first union boss to delve into politics.
She pointed to former union leaders Sir Hugh Springer, Sir Frank Walcott and Sir Roy Trotman as examples.
“I am conscious that she is general secretary of an institution that was affiliated with this party in its first 15 years of existence, up to 65 years ago. The marriage between Government and labour, therefore, is not new to this country, but it was determined that given the specific social and economic realities of this country and the pressure on labour that labour ought to have a dedicated political voice in the House of Assembly, and that we believe there is a commonality between our interests in representing the working classes of this country…” Mottley pointed out.
Since news of Clarke’s impending departure broke on Sunday, speculation had been rife that Moore would replace him.
And while admitting she was humbled to have been selected, the Independent Senator made it clear she would not be stepping down as general secretary of the BWU.
She also maintained that she was not “a party person” and that her role as an MP would not interfere with her job of representing the working class people of Barbados.
Back in 2015, Moore along with president of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall, led a march of over 5000 workers to protest the then Democratic Labour Party administration’s decision to retrench nearly a dozen workers at the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC).
She was also part of the Walk For Relief March in 2017, in opposition of the eight per cent increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) by the same government.
Moore acknowledged that the current environment was a difficult time for working people
“I have not been a party person, don’t hold that against me. Neither do I expect you to hold previous statements made by me of not seeing the necessity to walk the political road. That was taken at a time where that was my belief but things have changed. Not only has COVID caused change but experience has changed that,” Moore explained.
“During the coming weeks and months we are going to hear a lot of things, a number of opinions formed, a number of attempts to undermine what is on the table right now and the objective that this union, my joining you, is intended to achieve.
“Anyone who has followed me will know that I can bear the humps and bumps because for me it is more about doing and less about being preoccupied with the negatives around.”
While pointing out that she was humbled for the opportunity, Moore said she was confident that the BLP would win the by-election whenever it was called.
Clarke, who was also present at the meeting, fully endorsed Moore’s candidacy.
“I must say that she is a tower of strength and she will add value to the BLP and of course to labour. I’m looking forward to the campaign, I’ll be walking with her and encouraging all my young people, old people of St George North to give her the same support that you gave me,” he said.
Clarke said he expected her to outperform him in the by-elections by getting more than 81 per cent of the votes.