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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.

Symposium on Preparing For the World of Work

The Barbados Workers’ Union will be organising a symposium for senior students of Secondary Schools on the theme, “Preparing for the World of Work”, at its headquarters, “Solidarity House” on Friday, September 30th, starting at 9:00 a.m.

The symposium is part of the activities being planned by the B.W.U. to commemorate the registration of its 75th anniversary as the first legal trade union in Barbados and has been organised to prepare senior students for the world of work by introducing them to the discipline of industrial relations, the major players who are involved in the system and the fundamentals of the industrial relations system. The seminar will also deal with important issues such as developing sound dietary habits, deportment, punctuality and productivity.

The General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Ms. Toni Moore, together with the former Chief Labour Officer, Mr. Vincent Burnett, the Executive Director of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation, Mr. Anthony Walcott, will examine the subject, “The Nature of Industrial Relations”.

The Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. the Honourable Esther Byer-Suckoo and former Cabinet Minister, Mr. Reginald Farley will take part in a discussion on “The Barbados Social Partnership”. Ms. Karen Collins, a training officer with the Productivity Council will lead the dIscussion on “Preparing for the World of Work”, while Ms. Carla Ramsay, of the Nutrition Unit, Ministry of Health will speak on “Developing Healthy Dietary Habits”.

The speakers at the opening session will include the General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Ms. Toni Moore, Professor Sir Trevor Hassell, Chairman of the Commission for Chronic Non-Communicable Disease, and Mr. Vere Parris, President of the Barbados Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, who is also the Principal of the Combermere School.

Video from the BWU Youth Arm commemorating International Youth Day

Theme "The Road To 2030:  Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production"

Feature Address by Brother Hassan Yussuff to the Opening of the 75th Annual Delegates Conference


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