It won’t burn its placards or “marching shoes”, but the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) is placing some emphasis on working partnerships with employers in these tough economic times.
General secretary Sir Roy Trotman made this clear yesterday while addressing the opening session of the union’s 69th Annual Delegates’ Conference, at Solidarity House, Harmony Hall, St Michael.
He told the gathering that included employers, trade unionists, ministers of Government and diplomats that the BWU was pushing for “partnership in success and reward-sharing”.
“It does not mean and it cannot mean that we’ve burnt our placards or that we’ve burnt our marching shoes . . . ,” he pointed out.
Neither did it mean that “we are not able, at short notice, to put down the partnership’s silk gloves and again resume the gauntlet, if that is necessary”.
Sir Roy said his union did not want to give anyone the impression that seeking dialogue and “the better path of the pen” indicated it was “tired of the battle”.
“In fact, sometimes a battle is a beautiful thing,” he remarked.
He said that even where there was no battle, it was widely understood that “you have to rattle the sabres because it’s the only way to be able to get people to understand that you mean what you say”.
According to Sir Roy, the union was pushing the voluntaristic model of labour-employer relations “not because the law doesn’t do a good job, but when the law says you must, then nobody gets satisfied”.
He told the meeting: “If people together say let us do it together because this is what we want, then that decision is more likely to be one that will be accepted by all and greater efforts will be made to make sure that it works.”
The union chief made brief comments yesterday but his major address to the conference will come next Saturday.
Delivering the feature address at the meeting, former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons said progressive and revolutionary legislation had been a major factor in Barbados reaching its high level of development.
He listed the National Insurance and Social Security Act, Education Act, Trades Union Act, Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act, Offshore Banking Act, Family Law Act and the Status of Children (Reform) Act among the significant pieces of legislation.
Sir David pointed out that the quality of the Public Service had also been “a crucial factor in our development”.
“We have been blessed to have had, over the years, a cadre of public officers [who have] performed efficiently and effectively in support of the political class and in the best interest of the people,” he said. (TY)