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Unrealistic union demands


mialisafenty, [email protected]

Unrealistic union demands

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POLITICAL SCIENTIST DR GEORGE BELLE has a long history of being in the vanguard of socialist theory. So his recent condemnation of the trade unions as being part of the neoliberal philosophy should not be surprising to those who know his well established stance.
After so many years in the well protected world of academia, and the extensive research and writings he would have undertaken in that context, and having served as dean of the social sciences faculty, he should by now have a realistic perspective. 
As a product of the left that articulated theories and offered a political vision in the 1970s which romanticized the Fidel Castro model, Dr Belle should have by now appreciated the tolerance of the philosophy he so roundly condemns. It allows the trade unions and others to offer conflicting viewpoints.
The fact is that it is not only the trade unions in this country that have followed this neoliberal philosophy.
So too have both our major political parties. It has worked to our advantage.
The big trade unions – the Barbados Workers’ Union and the National Union of Public Workers – have a long history of being responsible in their approach to industrial relations.
Neither workers nor employers should wish for this to change. While theorists may view them as “being soft”, these unions have served their constituents well over the years.
The facts would show the unions have, at times, even been unrealistic in their demands which may have led to the disappearance of many jobs.
The workers understand their industrial representatives better than those of us on the sidelines. That is perhaps why many of those unions which have sought to be extreme in their approaches to effect change have virtually been stillborn. This would be highlighted in any research on the issue done at the Cave Hill campus.
Barbados is not an egalitarian society, but governments and the trade unions have consistently recognised that poverty, unemployment and social injustice are issues to be tackled. Through their emphasis on education and training, enactment of social welfare policies and support for a vibrant private sector, this country has derived benefits from top to bottom.
The prevailing environment calls for realistic approaches in every sphere of activity, whether by Government, private sector, civil society or labour. The unions must understand the state of play.
Neither marching up and down nor the singing of solidarity anthems are solutions. This has not worked in Greece in Spain nor for the Occupy Movement. Barbados requires innovative ideas to fuel the growth of business and entrepreneurship. It needs a stable work environment. Dr Belle’s perspectives suggest that he must deal with reality.

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