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Time to get rid of humbug


MICHAEL RAY

Time to get rid of humbug

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ACCORDING TO MEDIA REPORTS, a number of individuals are commenting around the claim that Cost-U-Less has refused to grant recognition to the Barbados Workers’ Union as the lawful representative of the employees at that establishment.

While it is true that recognition of trade unions is not enforceable by statute law, the Constitution of Barbados gives citizens, and by extension workers, the right to join and associate with any body or group to protect or further their interests in a lawful way. Such groups and bodies consist not only of sports, health and service clubs, but also charitable organisations, fraternities, sororities, cooperatives, political parties and certainly trade unions.

In Bajan parlance, the “humbug” surrounding the acceptance and recognition of trade unions that is not present in the functioning or operation of the other named bodies is an outdated and hackneyed requirement that 50 plus one must be the number of persons represented by any one trade union.

A local industrial relations practitioner recently called it a challenge. For me, it is a humbug and a nuisance written on paper as part of the provisions and procedure for the Chief Labour Officer to follow if a trade union is to be allowed recognition.

For starters, all establishments will not necessarily employ more than 50 workers. Why has it taken so long for the wording to be amended to read “one half plus one of the workforce”?

But humbug, nuisance or challenge does not stop at union recognition. Union busting of various sorts continues to plague the effectiveness of trade unions with a claim that an establishment has terminated a staff member operating as a union organiser.

Updated and relevant provisions are required if trade unions are to effectively protect workers against foreign anti-union business, particularly those already being granted special conditions and concessions.

At this stage of our development, Barbados cannot open its doors to labour camps and sweat shops as some other developing countries do.

– MICHAEL RAY

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