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The Barbados Problem: A Trade Union Solution?


BARBADOS (Naked Departure) — WHITE SUPREMACY — History is repeating itself.  Early in our history when controlling black slaves and white indentured servants became problematic, the legislature enacted a series of laws as a method of control.  By 1650, the infamous set of laws that became known as the Barbados Slave Codes were enacted to maintain the control of the Slaves by the Planter Class.

In 2016, with similar dynamics, history appears to be repeating itself.   Again in Barbados, a small group of persons are trying to exert control over the rest of the population.  This time the pursuit of that control is over both black and white taxpayers and again Parliament is the mechanism that is being used. However, it is not through the enactment of laws but through the award of lucrative Government contracts and positions on statutory boards.  In addition to this, the island’s garbage collection agency has been allowed to fail and the provision of water to the Northern Parishes is following a similar path to failure so that Government can privatize both services.

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In essence the problems of Barbados are being cause by a minority of business men who have planned an economic takeover which is being facilitated by a politically weak Government. The problems are all intertwined; they are not separate problems and cannot be dealt with in isolation from each other.

Many have been critical of the Trade Unions of late including myself until I finally understood that you cannot fight the problems of a 2016 Barbados with an institution that was created to solve problems of the 1930’s.  I was of the opinion, that the Trade Unions that were birthed during the struggles of the 1930’s were no longer equipped to handle the problems of Barbados which have long surpassed just labor.

I felt that the Unions should increase their mandate until a few days ago, when the Government unceremoniously demoted Akanni McDowall, of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW).  Much has been written about it so I will not linger on it.  What I will state is that it is a blessing in disguise.

For several months, something has been staring me full in the face and I could not see it.  However, it was this Administration’s action that caused me to “finally see.” I want the Trade Unions to remain trade unions and to fight solely for workers’ rights.

However, I want History to repeat itself again because if trade union activity in Barbados was able to give birth to a political party in 1939, a trade union in 2016 can also give birth to a new political party in Barbados.  Even back then the trade unions realized that defending workers’ rights was not enough to effect political action for change in Barbados so they created their own political party.

In essence, the Trade Union must realize that the problems that it is currently faces are much more than labor and that it must do as its predecessors have done and form their own political party.  That is the only way they can be on a level playing field with this Government to fight fire with fire.  In doing so the trade Union will again create what is no longer evident in Barbados “a labor party.”  The dynamics of politics is Barbados can be changed if the trade unions form a political party.  For one, it would spell doom for the Democratic Labor Party.

It took an entire generation to see the fruit of the 1930’s Riots which was political independence.  That fruit was reaped during the 1960’s.  Many of the players who held significant roles in the riots across the British West Indies died by the time their countries gained independence.  They never lived to witness it.

Instead of gaining economic independence 2 generations after political independence, we are reverting not to colonialism but to a new form of economic slavery. We must never forget that our labor is for the next generation and not ourselves.  The acid test of our success can only be measured by their success.  If we do not do what is right for our country now, by default we would have set the next generation up for failure.   Heather Cole

Naked Departure

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