No to strike action

Carol Martindale,

Added 13 January 2013

carolcrop1

To strike or not to strike – that is the question. I vote for the latter. Barbados could well be on course for a national strike, the biggest in the private sector since 1981 when thousands – about 5 000 -  marched through the City demanding the reinstatement of David Giles, a technician and union delegate at the Barbados Telephone Company. Ironically, this time, the impending strike action surrounds the dismissal of 97 workers from telecommunications giant LIME. Sir Roy Trotman, general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union  has called on LIME to withdraw the letters. LIME, however, has not budged from its position to date. With a breakdown in talks last week between the two groups, this country could be facing an islandwide strike. While I empathize with those who have lost their jobs, this is not the time to be contemplating strike action. With a clear understanding of the principle of standing up for one’s rights, there are times when as a responsible society, we have to look at the bigger picture. Talk and threats of strike action are more than irresponsible at a time when this country can ill afford it. Barbados’ economy is struggling and workers – both in the private and public sector – are nervous about their jobs. I hasten to emphasize how unfortunate it is that the 97 workers are no longer employed. No one wants to lose their job at this time when they are so hard to come by, no matter how qualified you are. Gauging public opinion from The Nation’s website and Facebook page, a large number of Barbadians are not in favour of a strike. Sir Roy says he is holding the date close to his chest, but I am not confident, even when he releases the date “for the day of reckoning”, that the union will get the numbers they may be expecting. Some have already decided they will not be moving from their desks. I have no doubt that the union will choose a date when the impact would be greatest and felt by the country. We are in the middle of our winter season, when thousands of cruise passengers arrive. Given that Port workers constitute a large part of union membership, a day when there is a crush of visitors and a great work load at the Port  will more than likely be D-day. I urge the union to stop and think about the larger picture and the serious repercussions for this country. Go back to the bargaining table. Talk. And then talk some more until this issue is resolved. Barbados cannot deal with a strike at this time, nor do the people of this country want it. Then, if there is no resolution in sight – enter Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. Carol Martindale is the Nation's Online Editor caromartindale@nationnews.com

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