Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
Why, you ask, should anything to do with child care or elder care for that matter, have anything at all to do with trade unions.
It is my contention that it has everything to do with trade unions…because it is central to the life concerns of our members. Those taking on the care of families have traditionally been the women of the family. More often than not, this care is unpaid.
In these times, we have seen a reversion to women being relied on once again, to cut out time and energy they hardly have, to take up these roles… again…too often at the expense of self care and work life balance.
The trade union has a unique opportunity here, to take this care off the shoulders of members who require the service, making it available to all members. Because one of a trade union’s main aims is to protect and advance the interests of its members in the workplace, as well as everything impacting that working ability.
So the trade unions’ work is child care, is education, is skill training, is scholarships…because anything weighing on the mind of the worker, inhibiting the performance of her or his public responsibility, is trade union business.
Day care, whether for children or adults, ought to be at the center of our organizing in the trade union. One is the future contributor to the workforce, the other built the foundation. Unless we say our interest is not in these two, our responsibility is gifting them the best care in the second instance, and in the first instance, care and development.
This leads me to my second point: training and tutoring.
For years Jeff Broomes has been tutoring members’ children at the NUPW. By doing similarly, trade unions can invite our teachers – retired or not, only too happy to volunteer. Not only can all of the trade unions offer this service, but by doing this, trade unions are taking government’s hand in partnership, developing to the best of its potential, our future workforce.
This is the purest definition of Social Partnership.
When aligning a workforce with higher and higher productivity, the trade union is an incessant space of training, facilitating, supporting and training civil servants in forever “upping their game”. So by the time a member is in a job for three years, s/he should be receiving training for the next level up, in continuous motion.
That is “day care” and “training”. The last point here is the role of scholarships as a trade union’s domain.
As a teacher I have been able to see what a $1500, a $3000 standing gift can do in the hands of students that have every wish to further themselves.
I have been able to see the light return to children’s eyes when gifts such as these bring the joy of learning further extended to them. I have been able to see the worry of parents trying to do right by their children, putting a little bit away, as much as they could each month…but coming up short.
The trade union offering each year 18 to 20 scholarships, set up by retirees or anyone with a bent towards philanthropy, will enable 18 to 20 students to further their education and develop themselves to be that much more capable to contribute fruitfully to their country’s uplifting. These are the roles of the trade union, an arm in a forward-thinking social partnership.
Daria Michelle Cave is a Bee-keeper, teacher and Councillor of the NUPW. She is contesting the 1st VP seat in its Executive Committee.