by Kareem Smith
Working class Barbadians have been slapped in the face and stabbed in the back by Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) General Secretary, Senator Toni Moore, who has now publicly joined forces with the ruling Barbados Labor Party (BLP).
This is the view of longstanding and outspoken trade unionist Senator Caswell Franklyn, who on Thursday challenged Moore to resign from the BWU after siding with the “most anti-worker administration in living memory”.
According to the Opposition senator, the announcement explains her reluctance in recent times to challenge the Government on key issues affecting workers.
During a late night announcement at the party’s Roebuck Street headquarters, Mottley broke the news that Moore would represent the BLP in the upcoming by-election for the St. George North constituency.
Since then, leaders of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) have all congratulated Moore on the move, while pointing to the longstanding relationship between political parties and trade unions.
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Franklyn argued that union stalwarts who entered politics have always placed workers first, associating only with administrations that had working-class ethos.
Citing the BWU’s swift acceptance of the Government’s recent wage subsidy proposal for hotel workers, he accused Moore of betraying workers even prior to last night’s move.
“This is the most anti-worker administration in my living memory and to get into bed with them is a slap in the face for the workers that she represents and workers in the country in general. They have been doing so much foolishness and she just sat down and absorbed it because she knew what her final objective was,” Franklyn told Barbados TODAY.
“So when you get Toni Moore joining the Government, you now know what is happening. She was there [with the BLP] all along, but she has now taken off any semblance of impartiality and she’s gone.
“She has betrayed the Governor General who appointed her as an Independent Senator and when she turned up before the public last night, she should not have been Senator Toni Moore. She should have made her resignation to the Governor General before she made that announcement. She cannot be an Independent senator, and from the looks of things, she never was,” said Franklyn.
He added: “She should have opted to either run in the Barbados Labour Party or to stay with the union, because this Government’s goals are not in sync with the unions and she is not in a position where she could straddle both fences. She should have resigned before she was elected to the candidacy.”
When asked about his own position as a founding member of the Opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP), Franklyn, who is General Secretary
of the Unity Workers’ Union, stressed that his first commitment is to his workers.
In fact, he added that his main motivation for working with the party is to ensure that workers’ rights are placed at the forefront.
“I am not a candidate for a party or for [the Lower House] of Parliament – period – and something extraordinary would have to happen for me to move from that position. Right now, I am serving where I am most needed,” Franklyn said.
“Toni Moore is serving where she feels is to her best benefit, not for the interest of the workers. I am serving where I can do the most good.
“People in Parliament are all singing from the same hymn sheet, but there are no people out here really speaking on the behalf of workers,” he added.
On Thursday, numerous union leaders met at the opening ceremony of the 13th Biennial Delegates’ Conference. Senator Moore was not among them, but apologized for her absence.
When asked about the developments, BUT President Pedro Shepherd noted the long legacy of union leaders entering politics across the Caribbean and supported the move based on Moore’s promise to keep workers at the forefront of her decisions.
“I think that she did a reasonably good job in the senate representing labour so I would want to offer my congratulations to her as she moves to the higher level.
“I wish her all success in that particular endeavor and I look forward to her continuing promoting the cause of labour in whatever position she may find herself in going forward,” he said.
CTUSAB president Edwin O’Neal stressed that many of the social benefits including access to healthcare, education, vacation with pay were all raised by trade unionists, but which had to be pursued in the halls of parliament as well.
He however acknowledged that only Moore could determine which group would be given her first allegiance.
NUPW President Akanni McDowall congratulated Moore, saying he was happy for her.