The umbrella body for trade unions in Barbados is calling for an immediate end to the “disgusting and insulting” habit of some heads of government departments of ignoring correspondence from workers’ representatives, even in urgent matters.
General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) Dennis De Peiza, who said the practice is impacting trade unions’ ability to represent their members, identified the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and the Third Sector, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness as culprits.
In a statement issued on Friday, he said CTUSAB has indicated to the Head of the Public Service and the Ministry of the Public Service, its displeasure at the “ongoing disconnect which is being experienced with some Ministries and Heads of Departments, as it relates to the interface with individual trade union organisations”.
“The communication difficulties which are being experienced, stem from the failure on the part of Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Department and Ministers of Government, to acknowledge or respond to correspondence from CTUSAB and some of its member trade union organisations,” De Peiza said.
“Further, the extremely slow pace at which responses have been forthcoming is very disconcerting and frustrating. There is also the growing problem of the lack of consultation with some Ministries on pressing matters of interest to the trade unions.”
Making specific reference to the Ministry of Education, De Peiza said responses to requests for meetings to discuss urgent and outstanding matters have not been forthcoming.
He said similar treatment is known to have been meted out by the Ministry to the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT).
“This is tantamount to being disgusting and insulting to the accredited labour representatives. With the understanding that this is impacting on the ability of trade unions to represent the interest of their members, CTUSAB is expecting that this matter will receive the immediate attention of the Head of the Civil Service,” he said.
De Peiza added that CTUSAB was also weary of the practice within the Education Ministry, where successive Ministers, having engaged with trade unions as the workers’ representatives, have immediately thereafter met with teachers themselves.
“This constitutes a violation of the industrial relations practice. Moreover, this can be considered as a subtle attempt to undermine and create division within the labour movement.
“CTUSAB hopes that such indiscriminate and undesirable behaviour on the part of any Minister of Government, will not be condoned by the Honourable Prime Minister and that an immediate end is brought to this practice,” the veteran trade unionist said.
A similar concern about the Ministry of Education meeting with teachers before giving their unions an opportunity to engage with them first, was raised by BUT President Rudy Lovell last month, ahead of the return to in-person classes.
He had complained that Ministry officials had met with the teachers immediately after discussions with the unions, giving them no time to speak with their members first. (DP)