Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Leave Sir Roy alone!


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One week ago, the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) admonished our Barbadian compatriots not to think of or to refer to our Caribbean brothers and sisters as “foreigners”.
Indeed, if Barbadians wish to know who the real “foreigners” are, they should pay careful attention to the several Caucasian strangers in our midst (and a few Bajan stooges) who crawled out of the woodwork over the past few days to denounce Sir Roy Trotman as a racist and to call for his dismissal because he referred to a Mr Jacob Hassid as an “Egyptian Jew”.
Only a genuine “foreigner” would look at a son of Barbados who has given well over four decades of his life to public service, and whom the Barbadian people know intimately, and call for him to be disgraced and destroyed simply because he made a statement that they disapprove of!
We, the people of Barbados, know that Sir Roy Trotman is no racist! Clearly, Sir Roy’s description of Mr Hassid and his ostensible anti-trade union actions were meant to convey the idea that Hassid is a “foreigner” who is seeking to import into Barbados an industrial relations culture that is foreign to our country.
We would, however, caution Sir Roy that that he also needs to be concerned about – it is also European Christians (the Sandy Lane dismissal of 25 workers for supporting a wronged colleague); black Barbadians (the Brown Sugar Restaurant’s effort to contractually prohibit employees from joining the union); and Indian Hindus (the Royal Shop’s dismissal of 12 employees for expressing solidarity with a fellow worker), among others.
Indeed, we cannot talk sensibly and convincingly about the behaviour of Mr Hassid’s Diamonds International without first addressing the still festering case of the “Royal Shop Twelve”.
In February 2008 Mr Hironan Thani, the managing director of the Royal Shop, summarily dismissed 12 female employees because they dared to withdraw their labour for a few hours in an expression of solidarity with a fellow worker whom they felt had received unjust treatment.
At the time, the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) wrote an open letter to Mr Thani.
“Mr Thani, are we really still at the stage in Barbados where the merest hint of a withdrawal of labour in solidarity with a distressed fellow worker attracts the harshest of responses from the employing class? After all the struggles against oppression, disenfranchisement and victimization that we have gone through as a country and a people, are we really still at this barbaric level of social relations?
“Surely, Mr Thani, you must recognize that “solidarity” is one of the noblest of the classic human virtues. Indeed, civilization itself is based on the capacity of men and women to feel and express solidarity . . . . The organized labour movement itself is based on the virtue of solidarity.
Thus, there is no way that trade unions in Barbados can sit back and allow any employer to punish and victimize workers for doing nothing more than expressing solidarity with a distressed fellow worker.”
Well, that was more than four years ago, and the “Royal Shop Twelve” are still suffering from the double injustice of a loss of their jobs at the Royal Shop and a failure to pay them any compensation for that loss.
• The PEP column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party. Email

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