Wednesday 17 July, 2019

‘Enough is enough!’ Unions go Black

Trade Union leaders leading 'Black Friday' move. (FILE)

Trade Union leaders leading 'Black Friday' move. (FILE)

Planned action by the unions today will not result in strike action and go-slows.

Playing a different card, today’s ‘Black Friday’ move is intended to show solidarity as the unions once more ask government to return to the salary negotiation table.

Major trade unions have united and named today ‘Black Friday’ as they stand up for workers’ rights to a pay increase, while calling on public servants to demonstrate their stance as well.

Speaking to Loop this morning, McDowall said that, “it is always a good feeling” to have the support of sister unions, because “they all understand… We all want to see workers get the salary increase.”

In a three-minute and 18-seconds-long video titled ‘It's 'BLACK FRIDAY' - February 16th 2018 - Wear BLACK’, the President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall urged:

“We are asking you to stand up for your rights. You have earned the right to a salary increase. The NUPW Executive and Secretariat have worked extremely hard on your behalf, but it is time now for you to stand up. The union is not the president or the general secretary. The trade union, the NUPW, is you.

“Now we have been able to put forward the information, the facts, the documents surrounding a salary increase. It is not empty talk. We have been able to link salary negotiations with the increase in revenue by the government and also the increase in the inflation rate. Public servants, you have sacrificed enough. Ten years is a long time. It is time that you be given priority. You have earned the right to a salary increase.”

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Today, public servants and the members of not only the NUPW, but also the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) will be wearing black to show their support for a salary increase.

This is the unions planned action for today.

According to McDowall, the General Secretary of the BWU, Toni Moore told her membership:

“BWU Family let's unite! The Government through its Ministry of the Civil Service has continued to ignore the pleas of your union and the NUPW to come back to the table to advance salary and wages talks. When your unions are disrespected you are. This is not simply about more money; it is about a failure to engage and a refusal to honour commitments made to you through your representatives. 

“On Friday, let us stand in solidarity to demonstrate our disgust with this way of doing things. We are asking you to wear black as we speak out against this non-commitment to partnership and dialogue.  Where you cannot be fully attired in black, show your solidarity by wearing a black armband.

“'One hand can't clap'!

“Remind our leaders in government that sustainable recovery is not possible unless they engage you and those who represent you.”

The BSTU issued a notice to their following stating, “‘It’s Black Friday. Wear black clothing or a back armband in support of our Union’s call for a return of government to the bargaining table to conclude salary negotiations.”

President of the BUT, Pedro Shepherd told Loop News, that he was contacted by Akanni and asked for support. “I then discussed with executive members and we decided to give support to it.”

With many asking why the NUPW was sticking to its guns and starting wage talks at 23 percent, McDowall in the YouTube video explained:

“Public servants have not received a salary increase in over a decade. The second reason why we are starting at 2 percent is because the inflation rate has increased by 40 percent. So the Union is asking for a reasonable normalization of wages and that is a starting position of 23 percent.

The last set of pay negotiations was in December 2017 and he said that at  that meeting government had not moved from “their position of zero percent.”

McDowall closed by saying, “Enough is enough! It is time for you to stand up for your rights… by wearing something black to show that you earned the right to a salary increase.”

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