Trustee of the Congress of Trade Union and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), Hartley Reid.

CTUSAB official cautions trade unions

TRUSTEE of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), Hartley Reid, wants the unions who are at loggerheads with Government over the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), to explain who they will command, if and when they step up industrial action.

Reid, who noted that while the reality stands that Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and Democratic Labour Party (DLP) supporters make up the workforce, he wants the unions to indicate which workers they are going to call out.

“Well this is a Democratic Labour Party Government,” he said, while speaking at the DLP’s Astor B. Watts lunchtime lecture series, yesterday.

On Tuesday, the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) staged a march to Parliament, where the leaders delivered a letter to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart appealing for relief for the workers of the nation from the controversial 10 per cent NSRL, which came into effect from July 1.

Following the delivery of the letter, the unions indicated to their members that if they did not receive a positive response from Prime Minister Stuart within 48 hours, they will be putting plans in place to step up industrial action.

While that two-day deadline has since expired, Reid, who indicated that the unions have a right to take action, cautioned them to move cautiously and to understand that there is a reaction to every action.

Reid warned workers that if they participate in a strike, Government would not have to pay them their wages, and noted that the unions do not have strike funds.

“When you call out your workers and they do not come, or let’s say you have a 100 per cent attendance, then you are on strike. But, the employer does not have to pay you because you are on strike.”

“The employer now, in this instance, Government, is going to dig in its heels. You can strike for two, three, or for weeks… Remember, that sounds good on the surface, but if you don’t get pay you can’t buy food, you can’t pay bills,” he said.

Reid also stressed that some of the major trade unions in Barbados are being led by young leaders who have not taken the time to understand necessary procedures.

“So now you have a situation where the last resort in industrial relations is spoken of first, strike. The problem is, you have a situation where nobody wants to sit down and talk. What we are having now, is certain members of CTUSAB have decided that they are going to take matters into their own hands,” he explained.

“They have gone outside of President Cedric Murrell, outside of General Secretary Dennis de Peiza and they are now doing things by themselves.

“What they are doing now is that they are forming their own alliances. You all have not heard CTUSAB yet because CTUSAB is not only those unions, CTUSAB has a number of entities,” Reid added.

He said, while unions are required to represent the interest of workers, in his opinion, what has been taking place, “is that every act that is being done by a union and a staff association, has a political overtone and undertone and this is where the unions are going to lose their credibility”. (AH)

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