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Boycotts on principle


Shantal Munro Knight

Boycotts on principle

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I love democracy. A person can make a suggestion and someone can disagree and actually express their disagreement in a real and tangible way. As a perfect example, the reported planned boycott of Mr Andrew Bynoe’s supermarket.
The suggestion is that the action is a response to Mr Bynoe’s call for an across-the-board ten per cent pay cut in the public and private sectors. While I personally disagree with this specific action, I am fascinated by the attempt to mobilize public action in Barbados, of all places, using social media.
We are known to talk about issues quite a bit but to actually organize around a specific concrete action is quite new. Given this new environment of possibilities for citizen action, I want to put a few things on the table that I would like to organize various boycotts around.
I want to organize a boycott around solutions that offer no real resolution. For example, I am not sure how long it takes a pig’s tail to barbecue since I do not indulge, but if I may, I would suggest that I am a bit disappointed that Phase 2 of the Alexandra situation stills seems far off.
Lest we forget, the protagonists in this situation were very firm in their view that there was an untenable situation, for which they created a national furore over a period of weeks. Perhaps the lesson from this is that all it takes is an audience with the Prime Minister and all will be well. LIME could only hope that Sir Roy gets summoned to such a meeting. But I am still asking for a boycott on principle.
I want a boycott of CARICOM Heads of Government declarations. I say: Not another one! I do not want to hear another plan, intent or promise coming from regional leaders until they agree to tangibly address some of the outstanding issues they have previously agreed to. Rickey Singh, I hope, is better at doing the mathematics than I am, because all I keep coming up with is zeros when I try to grade CARICOM’s output, implementation record and serious commitment to following through.
Even as they try to catch up on past initiatives, new issues arise for which there is only silence.
Could you imagine that Taiwan is holding Grenada to ransom ­– and not a peep from across the region?
Could you imagine major issues having to do with the economic resilience of the region, climate change and sustainable development, and nary a coordinated and coherent voice coming from amongst our regional leaders? This perhaps deserves the biggest boycott of all.  
I have a few friends at CBC and, hopefully, we can still be friends. I want a boycott of CBC’s programming. It has no logic. Actually I am wrong; I think the logic is to further the commercial arm of the corporation by making people buy Multi-Choice TV.  From Chinese pictures, to sex on the weather,
to humdrum programmes, to the destruction of the English language, according to Ridley Greene, CBC seems to serve no other real and substantive purpose than the 7 p.m. news and as a propaganda vehicle for whichever political party is in power.
It is very depressing; any programme that shows some potential to move away from the normal superficial discussions of all things wonderful and trivial inevitably ends up in the drivel of the wishy-washy.
My final call for a boycott is of the bad service in this country. Sometimes I wish I could exist on an island somewhere, where everything I need is conjured up and delivered by my mind. I am tired of having to spend my hard-earned money in places where people are rude to the point that the basic manners of “Good morning!” or a “Good afternoon!” become problematic.
How do we intend to stimulate customer loyalty, when any question or enquiry is met with hostility or, even worse, ignorance? It befuddles me.
I have also discovered that this type of attitude is no longer synonymous with the public sector.
It has also crept into the private sector. Today it has become part of total culture of service regardless of sector. “The customer is No. 1” has been replaced by: “The customer will take what they get at whatever price and standard.”  
So who will join me on my various boycotts?
Or perhaps I need to own a supermarket and make outrageous statements to stimulate social action.  
• Shantal Munro Knight is a development specialist and deputy coordinator at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre. Email [email protected]

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