LABOUR DAY MESSAGE 2015 By DENNIS DEPEIZA: GENERAL SECRETARY, CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS & STAFF ASSOCIATIONS OF BARBADOS
The celebration of Labour Day across the world is an expression of the unification of the workers’ movement, and identifies with the common struggles engaging the attention of labour.
In today’s world where globalization threatens the existence of unions, unification of the movement is imperative.
The 1991 economic crisis in Barbados marked a watershed period in the history of the Barbados Labour Movement. It created the basis for a united trade union movement, through the formation of the then Coalition of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados; which in 1995 gave way to the establishment of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados.
With its establishment, CTUSAB became the National Trade Union Centre of Barbados. This has been accepted and acknowledged by successive governments. Ever since then nothing has changed to alter this position.
As the National Trade Union Centre, Barbados has become eligible for membership to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). This global body for trade union confederations currently represents 150 million working people. To date, Barbados’ application for affiliation to this body which dates back to 2005, remains pending, as it has met with an objection from the Barbados Workers’ Union, which is a member of the ITUC.
For the past twenty years, there is no doubt that Barbados has enjoyed trade union solidarity. It was the collective vision of the founding members of the CTUSAB, namely the Barbados Workers’ Union, the National Union of Public Workers, the Barbados Union of Teachers, Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, Barbados Fire Services Association, Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools, Barbados Police Association, Barbados prison Officers Association and the Barbados Registered Nurses Association, that this was achieved.
Barbados is renowned and respected worldwide for its strong labour movement and its social partnership model. It is unfortunate that it now wrestles with a divided labour movement. The Congress shares the optimism that the spirit of collectivism which underpinned both the birth of the Congress and the formation of the Social Partnership of Barbados, will serve to bring about the desired reunification.
Whereas CTUSAB commits to trade union autonomy, it holds the view that the way forward for the labour movement remains premised on trade union solidarity. This should be encouraged by the governments of Barbados, both now and in the future. By so doing, the government of the day would reaffirm its commitment to the ideal of tripartism as promoted by the ILO; where it recognizes the National Trade Union Congress as the most representative organization for labour.
As the labour movement experiences some turbulence at this time, CTUSAB remains committed to promoting and improving inter-union harmony and to establishing a framework for the resolution of disputes.
CTUSAB uses this occasion of May Day Celebrations 2015, to call on the membership of the Barbados Workers Union to urge its leadership to reunite with the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, so that as a united force, labour we can move forward to represent and defend labour’s economic, social and legal rights, and the interests of workers.
Today the call for a united labour movement rests with the continued acceptance that ‘Unity is strength, for together we can achieve more.’