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77th Annual Delegates' Conference
Friday, 17 August 2018 14:40

Some 435 delegates and 180 observers have registered to attend the 77th Annual Delegates’ Conference of the Barbados Workers’ Union which will be held at Union headquarters, “Solidarity House” on Saturday, 25 August and Saturday, 1 September, starting at 9:00 .m. The conference which will be held under the theme, “Deliverance for All”, will hear addresses during the opening ceremony by Prime Minister, the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley and BWU General Secretary, Senator Toni Moore.

Apart from the theme resolution, the conference theme, the delegates will debate a number of other resolutions, among which are - “Decent Work for Domestic Workers”, “Labour Education”, “Violence and Harassment at Work”, “Quality Public Service” and “Commercial Banking Charges”.

The conference is being held against the backdrop of the persistent weakened state of the Barbados economy, the frightening spectre of an IMF programme and the anticipated lay-offs of public sector workers, following Government’s announcement of phases two and three of its economic recovery and transformational plan.

In its Report to the Conference, the Executive Council stated that it is emboldened and inspired that its believing that its mission of delivering a future for all that leaves no one in the shadows is one worth fighting for. However, the Council states that the Union is under no illusions about the gap that exists between what we have and what we want.

Specifically in its contributions to address the economic malaise of our country, the B.W.U. has been motivated by the need, among other matters, to urge government to make it easier for workers to join unions, advocate for more significant investment in public education; and urge government to institute a minimum wage that moves in line with inflation.

1. The BWU is urging Government to protect workers’ rights by calling on Government to enact legislation to make it easier for workers to join unions, penalise companies that violate labour laws, and mitigate the harmful effects of technology and globalisation on workers. We will continue to advocate for readying the workforce to operate within the context of technological advancement rather than punishing workers with unemployment or displacement because they have been ill-prepared to take on and respond to changes in the labour market.

The BWU looks forward to being able to contribute to workforce development through our educational offerings at the Frank Walcott Labour College. Our programming has been negatively impacted somewhat over the past years, even though the College still sought to maintain its relevance and reach in face of declining financial assistance through the subventions from the Government.

2.The BWU will continue to advocate for more significant investment in public education and targeted job training programmes to improve the prospects of educational attainment for all and o better prepare Barbadians for the work requirements of the 21st Century. In this regard, the BWU is pleased to have launched The Sir Roy Trotman Scholarship which provides assistance to those members or children of members who are desirous of pursuing courses of study t the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

3.The BWU will also continue to push for the future we want; a future that does not allow the mindless offering of local jobs to others by obnoxious pretension that Barbadians lack the qualifications. This is not to say that the BWU does not recognise the value that exposure from outside influences can bring for the enhancement of our product offerings. However we have witnessed too many instances which suggest that the goal of improvement was not the driver of the decisions made to deny citizens opportunities for a better way of life through employment.

4.The BWU, in pursuit of its enduring fight for economic justice, will continue to urge the Government to institute a minimum wage that moves in line with inflation and that reflects also the standard of living in our country. however, the Unions fight for economic justice has always been understood by us to be more than advocating

5. The B.W.U.’s call has also been for tax reform that is more progressive and that is aimed at reducing inequality by capturing within the net those who are not paying the correct taxes, or who are not paying taxes at all and by ensuring that where tax shelters are provided, decisions to do so are on the basis of matching concessions with the value that will redound to the society as a whole.

6. The B.W.U. also recognises that it has to intensify its efforts to make workers aware of the role they must play in helping to achieve the objective of improvements for all. Workers, through their numbers and their strength, will be the ones that achieve the aim of having employers support equitable compensation, workforce development and worker advancement.

7. The incoming Executive Council will continue to urge Government to enact legislation to support parental leave and child care legislation. It is hoped that this would promote workers staying in the workforce, but more importantly, it would also achieve the much sought after business flexibility that a 24-7 economy could bring.

Whilst the foregoing commitments summarise some of the economic and social elements underpinning the agenda of the Barbados Workers’ Union for our country’s sustainable development and growth, the Annual Delegates’ Conference must also be made aware of the Union’s preoccupation with a number of issues that have been impacting Barbados’ environmental viability.

LINDA BROOKS HAS BEEN RETURNED UNOPOOSED AS PRESIDENT GENERAL

Comrade Linda Brooks has been returned unopposed as President General of the Barbados Workers’ Union and Comrade Winston Roach, a member of the Executive Council, who has been proposed unopposed as Treasurer, will assume that post following the retirement of Comrade Washbrook Bayne. Comrade Bayne who was elected to sit on the Executive Council in 1992 has held the post of Treasurer for nineteen years.

Four members have been nominated for the three positions of Vice President. They are Jacqueline Collis and the three incumbents – Carol Boyce, Howard Griffith and Shawn Knight.

The Trustees are Hugh Arthur, Lemuel Daniel and Ethrill Chrichlow.

Twenty four delegates are contesting the eighteen remaining seats on the Executive Council. They are – O’ Neal Adams, Frederick Bovell, Carol Boyce, Wesley Chase, Caleb Clarke, Henry Codrington, Jacqueline Collis, Hartley Davis, Jeffrey Grant, Grantley Green, Howard Griffith, Janice Griffith, Genevieve Harris, Carlton Hope, Kent Jerson, Shawn Knight, Geoffrey Mapp, Alphonso Pollard, Gerard Prescod, Desmond Roach, Rico Simpson, Maria Watkins, Dale Williams and Yolanda Yarde.

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

The Barbados Workers’ Union has stated that the financial and economic challenges which Barbados was forced to address across the nation presented themselves in equal measure as the Union battled through one of its most bitter periods in recent history.

In its report to its 77th Annual Delegates’ Conference, the BWU has stated that it has been calling on Government to take direct action in addressing the plight of the most vulnerable in Barbados, particularly security guards, service station attendants, shop assistants and domestic workers.

The Report noted that during the 2017 period, the Union was engaged in a number of battles within the security sector, and stated that organising workers within this sector had proven to be a major challenge owing to the continuous high level of turnover of workers, in addition to the pervasive fear of victimisation.

The Report also refers to the Union’s ongoing struggle with Cost-U-Less and Innotech. With regard to Cost-U-Less, the Report states that this company continues to challenge the established industrial elations practices of Barbados. It adds that the workers have pursued their legal and constitutional rights to associate by joining the Union but that the company had frustrated the Union’s efforts to bargain collectively on the behalf of the workers; and had gone further to deny workers, in pursuit of their employment rights, their entitlement to union representation.

The Report stated that the Union had referred the matter to the office of the Chief Labour Office, but that no meaningful action had been taken at that level, and efforts to have intervention at a higher level had not been successful.

With regard to Innotech Services Limited, the Report stated that Union is confronted by contradictions in the labour practice of that company which represent an insult to all citizens and residents who understand the Barbadian commitment to our Fair Practices Legislation.

The Report emphasises that Innotech, like all similar companies, especially in public works, should set standards and conditions no less favourable than when the Government itself embarks upon it. Workers should thus be entitled to all the labour rights and freedoms.

The Report informs that efforts to treat made by the Union during the past year have been met with hostility as the Union has sought recognition on behalf of the staff. The anti-union hostility has been all the more surprising given the level of company-government interaction.

The Union has reopened this matter with the new Administration with the same demand for justice and respect.

 

 

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