Tuesday, April 23, 2024

ONLY HUMAN: Connecting the dots


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To start on a positive note, I’d like to congratulate the hardworking professionals at the National Cultural Foundation, ably led by Cranston Browne, for mounting a successful Crop Over this year. Everything may not have gone quite to plan, but few can fault the many events they capably coordinated in that short period.
Most of the events started promptly, had few technical issues, and patrons left the majority of them feeling they got value for their money.
Of course, much more needs to be done, and can be done, to make Crop Over the best summer festival and a world class event. To achieve this, though, the stakeholders in their postmortem of this year’s event need to be frank about what went wrong, what proved to be right, what could have been done better, what should be reviewed or even dropped, and what can be added to enhance it.
It is usually difficult with the many egos involved in the various aspects of Crop Over for people not to be offended by the truth. However, the only way the festival will successfully progress is when an honest critique is made of its different components and people are made to see that the festival is greater than their personal agendas.
This brings me to what I really want to look at this week. If there is one thing that continues to hinder real progress in Barbados in almost every sphere of activity it is the hidden agendas and big egos pushed by both individuals and organizations. Unfortunately, the public, often unaware of the truth behind the manoeuverings from the actors involved, gets caught up with the propaganda and form their opinions based on this. The truth only comes out after time and events have unfolded, and by then the damage has already been done.
Significantly, such a scenario is shaping up before our eyes in the situation between the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and Government.
You would recall that over a week ago – July 29 – the BWU pulled out of the 20-year-old Social Partnership and Prices and Incomes Protocol which they were integral in establishing. Their action was due to what they deemed as Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo’s mishandling of a meeting dealing with the sugar industry on July 26.
But based on the letter to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart informing him of their move, it was clear the union still feels disrespected by being replaced as Barbados’ delegate to the International Labour Organization (ILO) by the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).
The BWU had shown their displeasure at this move four months earlier when they pulled out of CTUSAB.
On this ILO issue, some argued that the BWU had been representing Barbados for decades and it was time the CTUSAB group got a chance. Therefore, they suggested the BWU’s split from CTUSAB was based on the injured ego of its general secretary, Sir Roy Trotman, who was on the ILO’s top executive body for years.
However, could there be another reason – a hidden agenda, so to speak – for the BWU’s treatment? And could it be that Sir Roy is aware of this and his actions are an attempt to ensure the BWU is not manipulated?
Is it possible that the move to elevate CTUSAB could be due to their critical support of Government by not demanding an increase of wages and salaries? Is it possible that Government, recognizing that Sir Roy led street protests in the 1990s against policies of the then Democratic Labour Party (DLP) regime in the throes of the financial crisis then, would be willing to do that again, if necessary, and so have been seeking to build an alliance with the other unions?
Could this scenario, and not Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley’s fledging “Rubbing Shoulders” programme, be the real reason behind Cabinet Minister Ronald Jones’ outburst in Parliament about the need for the police to “crack heads” and shoot people to restore order because he knows the Government has little alternative but to lay off workers and protests are bound to follow?
If all of this is plausible, what’s the hidden agenda and whose egos are we speaking of?
Is it possible there has been an ongoing attempt, however subtle, to “manners” the BWU knowing the reaction of its leadership could be portrayed as that of an egomaniac?
Farfetched? Maybe, but maybe not.
For sure, on the eve of a Budget in which Government needs to cut $400 million to trim this country’s runaway deficit, the BWU’s singular stance could jeopardize any collective agreement needed to ensure labour stability.
• Sanka Price is an editor at The NATION.


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