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National Workplace Wellness Policy

A team, representing the Commission for Chronic Non-Communicable Disease, the Ministry of Labour, the Mental Health Commission, the Psychiatric Hospital, and the Barbados Workers’ Union, met at the at “Solidarity House” on Wednesday, February 1, to continue work on the preparation of the proposed National Workplace Wellness Policy for Barbados.

The coordination of the Policy is being done by Dr. Dwayne Devonish, senior Lecturer in Management Studies, Faculty of Social Studies, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

The team will continue work on the policy on Thursday, February 16, starting at 9:00 a.m.

Retirees' Health Project

The Barbados Workers’ Union is collaborating with the Ministry of Health to devise a healthy living initiative for its Retirees. The project, which will be organised under the aegis of the Ministry of Health’s Health Promotion Unit, aims to introduce monthly sessions that include physical exercise classes, health education and peer support with a view to influencing the establishment of healthy behaviours in a 65 year plus demographic.

The objectives of the healthy lifestyles project are:

  • to explore participants’ attitudes toward the development of healthy behaviours and healthy behaviour improvement; and
  • educate the participants on benefits of healthy eating and physical activity as these issues relate to non-communicable diseases

The project will commence on February 16th, and end on June 15th – a follow-up survey will be completed four months post intervention.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, among developing countries Barbados now has one of the highest portions of older persons. 1n 2005, 17% of the population was over 55 years of age and this is anticipated to increase to 26% of the population by the year 2020. An aging population is often a reflection of effective policies and programmes. However, an aging population often comes with concerns that affect all sectors of society, including the health sector.

Good health allows seniors to be productive and independent in their later years. However, NCD such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes can diminish the quality of life of seniors, raise health care costs and ultimately increase pressure on family members who are responsible for their care, according to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

According to the Barbados Health of the Nation Survey, 50% of adults aged 65 years and over are at a 10% risk of stroke or heart attack over the next ten years. In addition, almost one in two of those persons aged 65 and older are hypertensive. It is evident that the non-communicable disease epidemic has greatly affected the older sector of the population.

The BWU Anniversary Lecture Series Continues

The Barbados Workers’ Union 75th anniversary lecture series will take another stage at “Solidarity House” on Thursday, October 20, starting at 7:00 p.m. .

Former General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Sir Roy Trotman, in conjunction with Senator Harcourt Husbands and former General Secretary of the CTUSAB, Patrick Frost will examine aspects in the development of the Labour Movement in Barbados, particularly the challenges the movement has had to face ever since the celebrated days of its founding fathers, Rt. Excellent Sir Grantley Adams, Rt. Excellent Sir Hugh Springer and Rt. Excellent Sir Frank Walcott, when they breathed on the organisation and gave it the first steps which brought it to a stage where it was able to hold its own as a mature organisation which gained the respect of people all over the world.

The high-level panel will examine three challenges which characterised the movement’s development since 1941, when the three Barbados Workers’ Union stalwarts – Sir Grantley, Sir Hugh and Sir Frank – were able to make their contribution.

Sir Roy, the lead presenter, said the panel will be looking at the challenges relating to:

  • the organisation of workers,
  • problems relating to the Trade Union Act, and particularly
  • the experiment, which led by the Labour Movement, started to establish a tripartite social partnership as a means of developing improved relationships of the partners for the overall development of Barbados and for the enhancement of our levels of efficiency and productivity in an environment where the benefits would be shared by all the parties.

Sir Roy added that the panel will be looking especially at the .contradiction that presents itself in a country like Barbados where, throughout its existence as a nation, it has been governed by Labour governments and yet, where in 2016, the question of recognition of trade unions and the workers’ right to bargain collectively is still in dispute, still not as clear-cut as happens throughout the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean, where the boast may not be in every case, the boast that says that there was Labour throughout that period.

According to Sir Roy, the panel will endeavour to discover how relations can be enhanced and what kinds of recommendations need to be pit before our publics in such a manner as to change that particular unfortunate situation. And the panel will be inviting the public to participate in a manner where it was not possible for them to interact in earlier discussions.

The upcoming lecture session follows others presented by historian, Dr. David Brown, Principal of Queen’s College, who dealt particularly with the birth of the Progressive League, the 1937 Disturbances and the founding of the Barbados Workers’ Union. He was followed by Justice Sherman Moore who dealt with the laws that underpin the trade unions of Barbados and buttress the living and working conditions of the working class. Justice Moore was followed by Ambassador Robert Morris who dealt with the contribution of Rt. Excellent Sir Frank Walcott and debunked many of the myths relating to the relationship which Sir Frank had with Sir Grantley.

The BWU Has Been Asked to Consider What Underlying Ethic Will Inspire Its Engagement in the Next Twenty-Five Years

The Barbados Workers’ Union has been asked to consider what underlying ethic will inspire its engagement with Capital, in particular, and the society, in general, as it navigates the next twenty-five years.

Taking his text from Luke 17: 16, The Rt. Reverend Dr. Jeffrey Gibson, Dean of St. Michael and All Angels Cathedral, in delivering the sermon at a service to-day, to mark the B.W.U.’s 75th anniversary, suggested to the B.W.U. that the text, read in the context of today’s world, and, in particular, contemporary Barbadian society on the eve of the celebration of the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence, one might want to embrace the challenge to making “inclusion” an integrating principle in the Union’s endeavours.

Dr. Gibson suggested that there is an element of restlessness in society and the neighbourly spirit which had nourished our people through the years has been severely eroded. He showed, as examples, the evidence of his claim as: the increase of stress on the family; the prevalence of non-communicable diseases; and the increase in the nature and intensity of violence.

According to Dr. Gibson, these features make the situation ripe for the emergence of an integrating principle – an ethic to guide our people towards the future. He suggested that it is quite appropriate to celebrate the achievements over the years, but it is equally important to assist the nation in charting a future where each person would be able to realise his or her fullest potential, and collectively, our people attain a common destiny.

Dr. Gibson said the B.W.U.’s membership of 25 000 people provides a sufficiently wide base to influence the attitudes of households across Barbados. He suggested that the skills which the B.W.U. has fashioned in negotiations through the years could help more people to appreciate that the concept of ‘the winner takes all” has gone. According to Dr. Gibson, the time has come for the celebration of ‘the dignity of difference’ where an inclusive attitude and spirit helps humanity to eliminate those features which continue to rob it of its dignity and to limit its capacity to reach its full potential.

“In other words, the B.W.U. can help our country to build moral capital: ‘the kind of communal solidarity that nurtures personal character, trust, and a capacity to build a decent life’, he said.

Dr. Gibson told his congregation, as they hear the biblical message today, we rejoice with the Barbados Workers’ Union in the celebration of its 75th anniversary of service to our country. He recalled that the B.W.U. was born in the midst of World War 11, October 4, 1941 – twenty-five years before Barbados attained its independence from Britain. He added that during that early phase, and indeed, throughout its development it has championed the cause of Labour and has contributed to the social, economic and political development of Barbados. He noted that the 75th anniversary is being celebrated against the backdrop of major achievements which include better conditions for work such as holiday with pay and maternity leave, National Insurance and social security and hosing development at Mangrove, in St. Philip.

Moore Calls for the Support of the Church

The General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (B.W.U.), Toni Moore has called on the Church in Barbados to give support to the trade union movement, not only with its prayers, but through partnering with the movement to inspire the change which the two institutions wish to see, especially in areas of interrelated activity.

Speaking at the Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels, today, at a service to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the B.W.U., Ms Moore told the congregation, which included Cabinet Members and representatives of the Employers grouping, that, like the Anglican Church, the B.W.U. “ is going through a period of renewal because we, too, need to be a beacon in this society, restoring hope to the hopeless, restoring dignity and winning for workers and their families, though not striving to win at all costs.”

Ms. Moore said the B.W.U., at 75, is not spending its time recalling all that it has done well over its existence, or lamenting the things that had not been done so well. Rather, she said, the B.W.U. is looking ahead and, so in the past months it has been giving moments of intense introspection. She emphasised: “We have seen where we where we have been dropping the ball and we have recommitted to our purpose. The theme for our observances was launched at May Day 2016 – “Clear Focus: Renewed Drive” and we intend to keep sharpening those things that are working and doing new things where what exist are clearly not working”

While reflecting on the work of the founding fathers of the B.W.U., Ms. Moore assured the congregation that Rt. Excellent Sir Grantley Adams, the B.W.U.’s first President and Rt. Excellent Sir Hugh Springer, the B.W.U.s first general secretary, would have been proud, were they alive today, to see the B.W.U.’s vision in tact. She added that Sir Grantley and Sir Hugh would have been proud “to see that, in many instances, the B.W.U. is living the goal of improving the quality of life of workers and their families”.

“They would be proud to see that, over the years the B.W.U.’s move to foster change through social dialogue, participatory representation and worker involvement has matured to a social partnership where those very objectives can be realised. They would be proud that their organisation leads by example in having products of the working class assume different positions of leadership to carry on the fight; they would probably be relieved that women arte less in the background and more in the forefront of the struggle”.

Ms. Moore said that Sir Grantley and Sir Hugh would be sad to see that while Barbados has improved and come a long way in many respects since 1937, the year of the disturbances and 1941, the birth year of the BWU, there remained definite attempts to re-enslave, even if only mentally. She made the point that the B.W.U. still had to fight and even strike to achieve recognition, adding that some employers in Barbados are still undermining social justice by denying workers decent terms and conditions and their families a decent life.

In conclusion, Ms. Moore lamented that Sir Grantley and Sir Hugh would be sad that a number of the persons who have benefitted from the struggle over the years have forgotten from whence they came and therefore show no reluctance in dishonouring their sacrifice.

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