Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Mary, Mary, quite contrary


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I WOULDN’T WANT to steal Mary Redman’s joy, but her elation at The Alexandra Secondary School Commission Report, whose  contents have not yet been officially publicized, should leave Barbadians a bit disturbed.
If the leader of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), one of the oldest unions in the country, can allow her satisfaction with yet undisclosed findings into the July-August 2012 commission of inquiry to overwhelm her without giving the Prime Minister a chance to reveal those findings, then I make bold to say that Barbados is in a leadership crisis.
And it has nothing to do with national leadership, but with labour union leadership, which would normally be expected to take an objective and sober approach in a situation like this.
Redman’s response last Thursday could have been similar to all the other sides involved. So far, neither principal Jeff Broomes nor his chief attorney Vernon O. Smith, QC, has displayed any emotion at the 111-page document which, according to Smith, was in his possession five days prior to the Prime Minister’s statement on it.
Nor has The Alexandra School’s board of management, the National Union of Public Workers, or its lawyers displayed joy or sadness about these findings which only they, and not the general public, know so far.
What signal does the BSTU’s declared state of happiness and claimed vindication send to a Barbadian public that well knows the union’s stance  of “separation and no other option”  for principal of The Alexandra School, Jeff Broomes?
The BSTU’s reaction is like icing on an unpalatable cake of disrespect that the BSTU has dished out from the beginning of this year. For who can forget the “gross insult”, as described by Minister of Education Ronald Jones, in the union’s correspondence expressing refusal to meet with him and his delegation and thereafter sending  a retired official to the meeting?
Even during the public inquiry  the innate arrogance, particularly by veteran BSTU consultant Patrick Frost, was palpable.
While Frost was informative, based  on his vast experience in the labour movement, his evidence was marked
by precise recommendations of what punishment should be meted out  to principal Broomes, and what Broomes himself should write  to the ministry!
Is nothing sacred any more? This was a commission of inquiry set up by a Prime Minister of Barbados, and even before he is given a chance to lay it in Parliament for public record,  the leader of the striking union is expressing joy?      Equally disturbing was the BSTU’s reaction to the possibility of a reprimand of science teacher Amaida Greaves.  In this instance, Redman said she would “await the complete report” before commenting on Greaves.
Is this the same union leader who could not “wait” to jump and claim vindication based on the same report  as it related to Broomes?
What on earth is happening  in this country?
I MUST agree with Dr DeLisle Worrell in his recent defence of Barbados’ and small states’ economic policies before the “top gun” of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde.
Never have I seen a Barbados Central Bank Governor, top economist and author, so disrespected in Barbados. Week after week, one columnist, who may well have sat at his feet as a student, and former employee tries to make him look as clueless as humanly possible; while the Governor is also the butt of jokes within Opposition portals.
However, at an IMF forum  in Trinidad two months ago,  Dr Worrell said while Barbados was “very clear” about its stabilization strategy, his beef was that this was not well understood in Washington; so he was hoping for a listening ear at that particular forum led by IMF deputy managing director Min Zhu.
The Governor had also just published an article on stabilization and growth policy for small states, which  he presented to Min Zhu.
But, from all appearances,  the IMF did not listen, and Worrell therefore had no choice but to state unequivocally to Lagarde that the  Fund’s one-size-fits-all strategy would destroy vulnerable economies like Barbados, and that devaluation  of our dollar was not an option.
He showed at the meeting in China that, while far more developed economies might kowtow to the IMF – which incidentally does not contain any more brilliant economists than Barbados and which did not foresee the global economic crisis in late 2007 – someone on this 166-square-mile rock is ready  to stand and not be silenced.
Ricky Jordan is an Associate Editor of THE NATION.


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