Three of the six political parties contesting the St. George North by-election will be holding a joint meeting in a rare show of solidarity in the midst of a short, but gruelling campaign.
The focus on Friday night is expected to be on a familiar opponent in Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate Toni Moore, and her stewardship as general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU).
The three parties are the official Opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP), the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the United Progess Party (UPP).
This evening the DLP released an advertisement for the meeting entitled: State of the Union – The Union Speaks. The event features five speakers with backgrounds in trade union leadership and involvement with the DLP.
They are Hartley Reid, former president of the Police Association; Undene Whittaker, former president of the Barbados Teachers’ Union (BUT); Walter Maloney, former president of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW); Robert Bobby Morris, former deputy general secretary of the BWU; and Dr. Derek Alleyne, former deputy general secretary of the NUPW.
At the bottom of the poster are the logos of the Joseph Atherley-led PdP and the UPP that is led by Wayne Griffith.
Also affixed to the unusual invitation are addresses from DLP St. George North candidate Floyd Reifer along with the PdP and UPP candidates David Waldron and Ambrose Grosvenor respectively.
The three parties recently opted out of participating in a national debate last Thursday night at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, in the lead-up to the November 11th poll.
When contacted, DLP President Verla DePeiza indicated that she was not one of the organisers of the meeting, but acknowledged the party’s involvement. She added that Toni Moore’s participation in the political race had sparked shared concerns among the three political parties.
Efforts to reach the other two party leaders were unsuccessful.
However, Whittaker, a former BUT president indicated that a group of unionists thought it necessary to put the spotlight on numerous pertinent issues affecting Barbadians.
While she denied that it was a joint attempt to undermine Moore’s campaign, Whittaker noted that there were shared concerns about the current state of democracy and workers’ representation which need to be addressed.
“Right now in Barbados, I believe that democracy is under threat and it had been under the previous [BLP administration], when I as a trade unionist had to deal with a number of issues that would indicate a threat to democracy, and it has now recommenced with this administration,” Whittaker charged.
“Workers are fearful to ventilate their issues because they are afraid of victimization. In some cases there is no one to represent them and the newspapers are replete with issues affecting workers where they are not being represented on issues of collective bargaining, safety and health, and security of tenure.
“There are issues impacting on workers and there are a few people who are prepared to stand up to this administration and represent workers.
“I believe there is a common thread which runs right through people who want to truly represent persons. So if there is a common thread and we are all comfortable with the issues, then you will participate, and that is what has brought the other parties together and the candidates for St. George North,” the union stalwart explained.