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A Publication of the Barbados Workers’ Union Where There Is No Vision The People Perish Vol.19 No.14 2012

The Executive Council of the Barbados Workers’ Union

Merry Christmas


CONTENTS Editor’s Note 1 From the Desk of the General Secretary 3 B•W•U & B•H•T•A Meet 5 Transport Should Remain Subsidised 6 The Ultimate State Mediation Council 7 st The BWU Celebrates Its 71 Anniversary 9 Tripartite Social Dialogue Is The Way 11 Recessions Severe On Trade Unions 12 Companies Have Work To Do To Improve Satisfaction 13 A Few Key Differences Between The Safety And Health At Work Act (SHaW) And The Factories Act. 15 Not Merely Connected, But United 17 The BWU’s 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference In Pictures 18 One Quarter of Adult Bajans Have NCDs 20 Offspring Can Be Damaged By Your Job 23 Putting Gender On Men’s Health And Safety Agenda 24 Maintaining Health And Safety In The Use Of Agrochemicals 25 Sister Verneta Durant Retires 30 What is Bullying? 31 BWU Netball Tournament Opens 32 Comrade Ulric Sealy Retires 33 Comrade Michael “Andy”Coward 37

Information concerning this Publication should be addressed to: Bro. Orlando Scott, Editor, The Unionist Barbados Workers’ Union, “Solidarity House”, Harmony Hall, St. Michael, Barbados Tel: (246) 426-3492/5 ● Fax: (246) 436-6496 Email: bwu@caribsurf.com ● Website: www.bwu.bb.org Photos by Brooks / La Touche Printed by Panagraphix Inc.

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ON THE COVER:

Seated in the front row (4th from left) President General Comrade Linda Brooks, (5th from left) General Secretary Sir Roy Trotman. From (l-r) front row - Comrades Heather Coward-Downes, Carl Boyce (Vice President) Byron Jackman (Vice President), Washbrook Bayne (Treasurer), Alwyn Tull (Trustee), Lemuel Daniel (Trustee) and Madeleine Blenman. Second row - Comrades Kim Moseley, Henry Codrington, Winston Roach, Denese Morgan, Jeffrey Grant, Milton Griffith, Desmond Roach, Orlando Scott and Clifford Mayers (staff). In the backrow are: Comrades Wesley Chase, Carlton Hope, Jefferson Nicholls, Sean Knight and Levere Richards (staff). Absent are: Neville Kirton (Vice President), Gerard Prescod, Allison Howell, Mrs. Marcia Chandler-Thompson, Gregory Maughn, Howard Griffith and Hugh Arthur (Trustee).


EDITOR’S EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK NOTE Orlando Scott, BSS Orlando Scott, BSS , JP Senior Assistant General Secretary, Senior Assistant General Secretary, Barbados Barbados Workers’ Union Workers’ Union

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he observance of Barbados’ 46th year as an independent nation on Friday, November 30 provided for all of us who claim citizenship of this island to reflect not only on the struggle of those men and women whose courageous and selfless efforts charted the path to independence, but, on the efforts of those who steered the ship of Labour through the turbulent waters of the past seven decades. Forty-six years cannot be taken as a long time in the history of a country; but we are certain that Barbadians, who are under thirty years of age and who did not experience the independence debates of the 1960s, may not necessarily be as sensitive to the issues emanating there from as those of us who lived during that period. Those of us who were witnesses to the events will, no doubt, express our individual opinions regarding those whom we regarded as making the right choices and those whom we thought did otherwise. Politicians were largely at the centre of the independence debate, and, like most issues in which politics are involved party politics may have played a greater role, for some, in the independence debate than reason. Hindsight now allows us to see clearer.

We take this opportunity to thank you who have advertised with us, even in these trying times. We wish you a Merry Christmas and the best for 2013.

Today, forty-six years later, the political notables of the 1960s are no longer in active politics: in fact, some like the Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, the then Premier, along with those comprising the political opposition, Ernest Deighton Mottley of the Conservative Party, and Sir Grantley Adams and Dr. Hugh Gordon Cummins of the Barbados Labour Party are dead. The other key players in the debate, the Under Forties grouping, The Unionist

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composed mainly of young attorneys-at-law who were members of the Opposition, campaigned against Barbados seeking independence apart from the Little Eight, along with The Underprivileged Group, who launched a crusade in support of the Government of the day, are, today, just part of history’s page. Political independence is now a reality and the current generation of Barbadians, if they are moved to read the debates of that period, may probably wonder what the fuss was all about. The happenings of the mid-1960s give substance and meaning to Ecclesiasticus Chapter 44 as that text is more than a remarkably well-woven piece of writing that captures the high calling and work of Bible patriarchs, men of faith, like Enoch, Noah and Abraham. It also strikingly reflects the harsh realities of life in that it points to the fact that, in every era, there are “famous men” who build, whose names are honoured and remembered, and others who build but have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been born. This truth is borne out in the fact that, at this time of the year in Barbados when we reflect on our nation’s journey to, and attainment of, independence, we speak glowingly - and sometimes only of - the efforts of the then Premier, now National Hero Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, dubbed “The Father of Independence”. We may also make reference to the other “famous men” who publicly supported Mr. Barrow’s efforts and “those famous men” who opposed them. But the reality is that there were hundreds of unknown men and women, in and out of Parliament, drawn from all sections of the Barbadian society, who were engaged in the political wordplay on either side of the political fence. They, too, made their contribution to national development. Thankfully, unlike some other colonies in the then British Empire, particularly those in Africa (such as Kenya) and Asia (such as India and Pakistan), Barbados’ march to independence was attained without bloodshed, banishment and or imprisonment of those persons who were in the vanguard of that fight; nor was the aftermath of the struggle fettered by stonewalling by either the 2

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British or the political Opposition. In the interim, Barbados has been blessed by good leadership at all levels. We make particular reference to the developmental work that has been done by the Tripartite Social Partnership over the past two decades, much of which has been proposed, and, or supported, by the Labour Movement. Today, we take time out to pay tribute to those “famous men”, who, in the continuum from National Hero Rt. Excellent Samuel Jackman Prescod through to Rt. Excellent Dr. Charles Duncan O’Neale, Rt. Excellent Sir Grantley Herbert Adams, Rt. Excellent Sir Hugh Worrell Springer, Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, to Rt. Excellent Sir Frank Leslie Walcott. These are the men who led the struggle to reconfigure the social and political landscape of Barbados by their years of struggle to remold our democratic institutions and to give liberty to the masses. We also honour the thousands of unsung heroes in the fields of Politics, Labour, Business and the Church, whose bold and steadfast support helped to give courage to their respective leaders and to make Barbados a stable country. We note that the Barbados Workers’ Union ever since its formal establishment on October 4, 1941 has stood as the beacon for democratic rights in this country and has been staunch in its defence of the rights of Barbadians. The period in which we now live has been described as the worst economic period the world has experienced in the last hundred years. It has been a period characterised by high unemployment and weak growth in the major international markets as well as protests in North Africa and some European cities. At home, the Labour Movement, with the Barbados Workers’ Union in the vanguard, under the leadership of Sir Roy Trotman, has been playing a crucial and dynamic part in partnering with the Government and Business to steer the ship of state through this economic tempest. We pray that God would continue to raise up and guide famous men to affect good governance in this country. g

Happy Independence & Merry Christmas!


FROM THE DESK OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY Sir Roy Trotman, K.A. General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union

Barbados Workers’ Union Will Resist Wholesale Lay-offs

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f one is supposed to judge from the frenzied

behaviour of sections of the print media then it is clear that ‘the Silly Season” in Barbados is with

The Barbados Workers’ Union (B.W.U.) will attempt to avoid open expressions of preference since several levels of our membership are to be found solidly connected to the central platforms of the two major parties. That is not to say that we do not have an opinion; and everyone should have an opinion regarding how his or her political interests are best served.

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The B.W.U. however would be less than honest if we did not speak out to an issue which united Labour and Management, and the competing political parties, some twenty years ago and should do so again. The B.W.U. cannot and will not speak, twenty years later, for all of Labour as we did then. The B.W.U. however wishes to state unequivocally that it considers as an enemy of the working class any agency or political party which, at this stage in our existence, presents a policy option to reduce jobs either in the Public Sector or in the Private Sector. Twenty years ago the Labour Movement, with support from our social partners, the Employers, told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank that wholesale lay-offs in the Public Sector would be resisted; that Capital and Labour would reject a collapsed social protection floor, and, as a result, would fight against cut-backs in our educational programming. We made it clear that Public Transport should and would not be privatised and that our Airport and Seaport would remain under the control of the Crown. We also made some strong comments regarding our Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, (CBC) and we felt the CBC should remain a public institution for the enlightenment of our people and not merely for entertainment. We still feel the same way and so we will resist those stories we are hearing of the privatisation and therefore the loss of jobs at public corporations. The B.W.U. understands that our nation is experiencing a crisis unprecedented in its virulence. The B.W.U. was the leader in the promotion of social

and economic initiatives to contain the economic erosion. Others followed our leadership and, in April 2009, we agreed that the country would embark on a No layoff policy and would balance that with a wage containment regime. The Government signed on to that arrangement in April 2009. The Unions got buy-in from their membership. Today, however, the workers are hearing threats of job losses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and at the Transport Board, both facing privatisation and, depending on whom you choose to believe, we are hearing that the losses are between 6,000 or 10,000 jobs in the Public Service as we seek to free up the Private Sector to realise its potential to maximise profits. The absolute numbers in the Public Service cannot compute; so the B.W.U. wishes to reject the absolute figures, but we can’t reject the reality that the threat is there for the loss of jobs of several people by the new initiatives. What the working man and working woman in Barbados cannot play politics with is any attempt by anyone to fully commercialise Public Transport, or to demand full cost recovery at our primary health care facility. Furthermore Labour has to reject the posturing of those economists who have forgotten their roots and who will cut off public sector jobs without proper regard for the social mayhem that will result from those initiatives. The Barbados Water Authority should also be mentioned as part of those areas that we need to protect. Let’s hope to God that nobody gets smart enough to talk about privatising water. g

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

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B•W•U• & B•H•T•A• Meet

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he Barbados Workers’ Union (B.W.U.) and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (B.H.T.A.) met on Tuesday, 21st October to commence a series of brain storming sessions, which the two sides thought they would hold at the beginning of the new collective bargaining cycle, geared at shoring up sustainability in the tourism and hotel sectors. The collective agreement between the BWU and BHTA takes effect from December, 2012 until December 15, 2014. Employers and Workers during the session have joined in pledging to exert maximum effort to reverse the trends in the Hotel Sector and in the Tourism Industry as a whole. The Employers have committed themselves to a policy of greater inclusiveness, more information sharing and greater levels of enlightened and empathetic management. The Workers have pledged to work more assiduously to eliminate absenteeism, reduce lateness, improve efficiency and engage in the flexibilisation of the delivery of work in such a manner as to ensure the enhancement and improvement required in service delivery in the industry. Both sides have agreed that the revitalisation effort also required similar commitment from all sections

and all departments in the country from the first point of interface for the visitor to the last contact when that guest is leaving and making his or her final contact. They agreed to select a number of committee personnel who will embark on a new effort to ingrain the old mantra that: Tourism is (all) our business; and we should (all) play our part. But beyond the soothing tenor of the words that will be used in the pledges, the Employers and Workers have committed to function as we did in similar circumstances twenty years ago and to take joint approaches in addressing some of the more challenging issues confronting the HOTEL Industry and the tourism industry as a whole. The Employers are especially challenged by their energy costs, their tax levels, and the security challenges each hotel is experiencing and the disorder and corruption which mark the contact and engagement with tourists particularly at the Seaport. Where it is practicable, the B.W.U. and the B.H.T.A have agreed to use their joint energies to aid the industry’s recovery. We have all agreed however that changing the approach and improving the image must be the concern of all of our people, and not merely those people who are directly employed in the hotel industry. g

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Transport Should Remain Subsidised

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he 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference of the Barbados Workers’ Union ended on Saturday, September 1 with a strong call by delegates that public transport should remain subsidised. This appeal by delegates came against the backdrop of recent calls by some politicians and private sector interests to privatise the Transport Board. The conference which opened on Saturday, August 25, with a an address by Chief Justice, the Honourable Marston Gibson, also expressed strong support for measures to control the African snail as well as the green monkey, since these are considered as a potent threat to Barbados’ efforts to establish a sustainable food security programme. Delegates emphasised that the Transport Board was offering a social service and that if that service were to be privatised, it would create hardships for thousands of wage workers, at the lower levels of the pay scale such as security guards, cleaners, domestics, care-givers and gas station attendants. Delegates spoke out strongly against what they termed as threats to privatise water in Barbados and called on the Conference to send a strong message to the Government to retain the management of water in Barbados in the hands of the public sector. Housing Policy Delegates deplored the absence of a housing policy which would excite and engage especially homeseeking persons in the lowest income bands in Barbados and which would limit employment to a single contractor; but would seek to spread employment opportunities. The Conference was critical of the delays being experienced in the Public Service in the filling of appointments/vacancies, whether temporary or acting. Delegates were alarmed that these delays were so grave even when the Public Service is equipped 6

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with improved technology and more modern support services. Delegates also lamented that there were still inordinately lengthy and sometimes irregular periods for payments. The Conference expressed concerns regarding the changes recently made in the Pensions Benefits Act which purportedly permitted pension houses to reduce both the gratuities and monthly pensions of workers. The Conference was relieved by the assurance from the Financial Services’ Commission that the pensions should not make anyone who was entitled to a pension before February 2011 to receive a lesser pension. Minimum Wage The Conference applauded the Barbados Workers’ Union’s Executive Council for its persistence in the fight to raise the Minimum Wage for shop assistants. The Conference was partially relieved that the rate was temporarily moved from $200.00 to $250.00 per 40 hours per week. The BWU however remains convinced that the recommendations of the Shops’ Wages Council should have been implemented and that at this date, the Minimum Wage should stand at no less than $300.00 per week or $7.50 cents per hour. The Conference repeated the call to have this Minimum Wage apply to security guards and to gas station attendants. Outgoing Chair of the BWU Education Committee Comrade Beverley Beckles was praised by the Conference for her work in guiding the Labour College’s programme over the past few years. Comrade Beckles, who has retired from the Executive Council after more than a decade of service to the Union, has pledged to continue her support for the organisation. g


The Ultimate State Mediation Council he Barbados Tripartite Social Partnership has been described by Barbados’ Chief Justice, the Honourable Marston Gibson as the largest conversation in the country.

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company and the Union. Nothing has been heard since. The issue which I am sure you all recall would have been particularly divisive but when leaders can talk, business will walk”, he assured.

In his address to the Barbados Workers’ Union’s 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference at “Solidarity House” on Saturday, September 1, on the topic, “Resolution by Conversation: Towards a more interactive Justice’, he said that for a number of years Barbados has had what could only be described as the ultimate state mediation council….what most of us would call the Social Partnership.

The Chief Justice explained that he had mentioned that event not to stir up a new conversation but to state that the Union had a very important role in dispute resolution in Barbados.

The Chief Justice was of the view that despite the trying economic times, the rights of the employee, the employer, the duty of the state and of the business community working together had kept Barbados afloat. He said: “This is the essence of the path to industrial dispute resolution that we need to focus on because it has been tried and it has worked! This is the largest conversation in the country and the ability of the members of the Social Partnership to keep talking has, in my view, helped to keep a relatively stable industrial climate”. Alternative Dispute Resolution According to the Chief Justice, a very important consideration in his support of alternative dispute resolution was the role of the Union in dispute resolution. In doing so, he referred to the BWU General Secretary’s May Day address in which he made comments about a businessman which created a stir in the public arena. “I recall, like many of us that Sir Roy made some comments about a businessman. But what I also recall, which most people quickly forgot, is that there was a conversation between Sir Roy and the businessman, and between the workers at that

“I do not know if Sir Roy and the businessman would invite each other for afternoon tea. I do not know if they even like each other. But that is not the point”, he said. Giant Strides According to the Chief Justice, Barbados has had a history of giant strides and the Labour Movement had been a part of that stride and a leader in the right sort of conversation that business needed to have. And he said expressed his pleasure that the Union was one of the entities which had embraced alternative dispute resolution in its working environment “Shop stewards and all delegates have been part of the wheel which allows our businesses to be responsible and profitable. The conversation which the Union has had for many years has been one which has served this country well and has guaranteed the type of working environment which we have in this island. And it will need to continue given the more cosmopolitan nature of our business environment and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy push necessary for our survival’, he said. The Chief Justice told the packed auditorium at “Solidarity House”: “You may not believe that this has anything to do with justice. But it does. It means that the right of the worker and the concomitant ability of businesses to thrive in our nation are vindicated by the resort to conversation rather than conflict. The Unionist

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“I know that conversation is not sexy or sensational and not apt to attract media interest as a conflict. But to quote from Father Clement Paul “stay out of the newspapers any way”, he cautioned. The Chief Justice suggested to the Union that it may want to consider resorting to mediation in case a faceto-face between the Union and Business did not yield fruit in the instance when the difference of opinion between the two sides required the intervention of a third party to facilitate the conversation. He made the point, however, that history had shown that the Barbados Workers Union, indeed the other unions and employers’ groups on the island, had been a part of the resolution conversation for many years and the fact that industrial action had not really recurred in Barbados with any frequency – even in the face of present circumstances – was a testament to the success of the conversation.

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The Chief Justice told the conference that throughout his legal career, he had had the pleasure of a long association with the trade union movement and he thought, in large measure, that association had helped to influence his preference towards alternative dispute resolution. For eleven years of his working life in New York hew was a delegate – or a shop steward. Earlier in his address, the Chief Justice made the point that today’s business and legal environments are fundamentally different from those which existed at independence. He reasoned that drawing out disputes in order to have fanciful legal argument had no place in our industrial relations “where time is money and where businesses can rise and fall in relatively short time periods”. He said therefore that “if we accept that, then I believe that we must also accept that the methods of dispute resolution have to be speedier and definitely more interactive”. g


The BWU Celebrates st Its 71 Anniversary

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he 4th of October, 2012, marked the 71st birthday of the Barbados Workers’ Union. The Barbados Workers’ Union was officially registered as a trade union on, 4th October, 1941. For the occasion, the Executive Council of the Union thought that we would commence the New Year properly and so it asked Reverend Mark Harewood to receive us at the Love and Light Ministries which is in the St. George Primary School. Since he had delivered the last May Day sermon, we thought that this would have been a good occasion to worship with his congregation, as we commemorated this very special occasion in our life. We do not think we can proceed satisfactorily unless we start with God invoking that guidance. The very next day we proceeded to pursue the course of a BWU-sponsored Regional Youth seminar at the BWU Labour College, Mangrove, St. Philip, where we endeavoured to look more fully at Labour’s role in promoting the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and where we tried to show that, although our organisation may itself be 71 years old, we have a Youth Arm and that our Youth Arm should gear up for the continuation of the kind of initiative which is absolutely necessary for the development of the Single Market and Economy as part of the way forward, not merely for Barbados but for the region as a whole. For this seminar, we had as many as 75 persons attending on a daily basis; just over 20 of whom were from the Region, starting with Belize in the north to Suriname and Guyana in the south. Youth Arm This was an occasion where our Youth Arm endeavoured to reach out to other young people in the Region. They took the position that since the older persons in the Labour Movement, the older persons in politics, and the older persons in business are not working as steadfastly as they ought to do,

in building that Caribbean economy, that Caribbean Single Market, they, as the Barbados Workers’ Union Youth Arm, would take on the challenge to make the idea a practical reality. We did not only stop there; we had at the other level of the Barbados Workers’ Union the Retired Members’ Division. The Retirees held our Founders’ Day commemorative activities at “Solidarity House” on Saturday, 7 October, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. We endeavoured to have a reenactment of the July 26, 1937 Disturbances (which occurred in Barbados) and, in general, have discussions that would take us back to our roots, the very beginnings, that would allow us to be able, from those beginnings, to reflect on what it is the trade union has been set up for, what it is doing and what it intends to do. A Voice At The Workplace Members of the public will, no doubt, recall that our big challenge has been to gain a voice in the workplace. That is not easy, and, in these times, the gains that we have been able to make in those areas are being challenged ever so often. But our objective is still to have for the working person, a voice at the workplace. That can only be handled properly if our goal that goes hand in glove with this is received and dealt with and that is to gain respect at the workplace. You may go to work, and you may work hard but there may be times when the employer treats you as though you are just cattle. We think that being a voice at the workplace still has to be our very important objective. Naturally, the commercial part of our work is still very important, and that is the goal to share in the fruits of our labour - the workers’ labour. The Barbados Workers’ Union is still meeting with employers. These are difficult times but we are still negotiating agreements and reaching contract terms. The Unionist

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In all of that, our overriding and overarching aim in these negotiations is to protect jobs, and, sometimes, we have been entering into concessionary bargaining which we are quite willing and prepared to do in the event that that is the alternative to having persons retain their jobs. Minimum Standards These days, we are very anxious and very concerned to set and to maintain a Minimum Social Protection Floor, so that even if employers are not doing well or the Government is not doing well, we still, as a union, are arguing that there should be minimum standards below which one may not fall in terms of the persons who are members of our community and who we should wish to take care of. That then fits into the objective to cooperate with employers and with government in an initiative to reduce any layoffs that might be on the horizon. We do not say that some layoffs have not taken place. We do not say that some of them will not take place, but we ought to work as hard as we can to keep layoffs to the nearest minimum. We seek as well to police our collective bargaining agreements to ensure that employees’ rights at the workplace are not being trampled and are not being reversed because employers are meeting difficult times. Our experience teaches us that when employers find difficult moments, sometimes the first part of their reaction is to reduce conditions for workers or sometimes reduce the levels of their entitlements to employment rights. So, a part of our job, as we move forward immediately in our 72nd year, is to look at, some of these measures. Recession In addition to that, we have bigger, longer term efforts. We are hoping that workers would be able, when we start coming out of this recession, to have employers - who may not want to speak about direct increases - to start considering and negotiating more, and to have workers share as owners of the business. The concept of negotiating shares is again entering into our programme in much the same way we had 10

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endeavoured to do so in the 1990s but where that was discontinued when the economy started looking up. We are in our 72nd year, as well, trying to upgrade, improve, beautify and make available to other users, our Labour College at Mangrove, in St. Philip. So when next you visit the Labour College you would be able to see it properly sign-posted, with beautiful flowers, and nice looking lawns. We intend also to have a fitness centre where students and members of the immediate environs might be able, much as they do, over at the gymnasium, to use that facility to improve the healthy body in what we hope will be an enhanced and improved mental framework. That is part of the work we will do and so, although we have passed 70 years, we do not say that that is the subtotal of our years of existence. We are now transforming that adage that “Life begins at 40” to the idea that at “70”, you should be more ready to take on the next 70 years and to take on our publics better than we have done before. CBC Negotiations The Barbados Workers’ Union is reporting that it has been able to get a commitment from the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that it would honour its obligation regarding increments owed to staff. In a recent press interview, BWU General Secretary, Senator Sir Roy Trotman informed the public that the Union had had some discussions with The CBC. Sir Roy recalled that when he had last met with the media he had indicated the Union might have had to take industrial action against that the CBC because it had discontinued the payment of increments that it was supposed to do, only if it was going to put in place a performance appraisal system. Sir Roy emphasised that it was understood that where that appraisal system was not put in place, then the increments would continue. Sir Roy explained that because the CBC had put neither the increments nor the performance appraisal system in place and had not paid the increments,


the Union therefore had to have some very serious discussions and in those discussions had made plans regarding what it would do to vindicate the cause of the workers at the corporation. Sir Roy said he was pleased to report that at a meeting under the chairmanship of the Minister of Labour Dr. the Honourable Esther Byer-Suckoo, and at a later session, the Union was able to get from the CBC a commitment that it would now honour its obligation regarding those increments. He added that beyond that, the CBC would also endeavour to submit a proposal for performance appraisals which the Union believed it should receive sometime before the end of the year. Sir Roy said: “The increments will be paid and we also will have to some discussion shortly regarding the retroactive payment that is involved but what has happened is that we averted industrial action that might have become necessary”. Social Dialogue

Tripartite Social Dialogue Is The Way

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ripartite social dialogue has been broached as the way through which the Caribbean will overcome the current economic challenges.

The General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Senator Sir Roy Trotman believes that it is because trade unionists in the Caribbean have been able to meet with Employers and to get Governments to come on board and to join in the new approach that says that tripartite social dialogue will be the way through which we will overcome this challenge in much the same way that we overcame previous challenges and will overcome future challenges. Sir Roy was speaking at the opening ceremony of a three day seminar on Climate Change, organised by the International Transport Federation at the BWU Labour College on Monday, September 9. g

According to Sir Roy, a very important lesson coming out of all these times is the lesson regarding the need that there is for employers, in good times as well as in bad times, to understand that the decent thing at the workplace is to enter into social dialogue. He stressed that employers should communicate with their workers and treat them with the level of respect that is due to them as persons. Sir Roy’s view was that employers should treat workers “with the level of respect that is due to them as persons contributing to the building of wealth or the reduction of losses in the workplace. “Treat them with the level of respect that is due to them as persons who have intellects, which intellects are able to contribute to the operations of that establishment. If that is done properly, and done without rank or patronising anyone, I’m sure that workplaces would do much better than they currently do”, said Roy. g

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Recession Severe On Trade Unions

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he impact of the economic recession has been severe on trade unions, and the General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Senator Sir Roy Trotman has said that where ever he has visited, the indication has been that countries were under such a cloud that it would be difficult to predict how soon we would see the light at the end of the tunnel.

place on Wall Street and in other money centres around the world, with people playing wild and loose with our financial and economic status”.

Notwithstanding this difficult period, Sir Roy sought to buoy up the spirits of trade unionists across the Region by reminding them that “…we are members of a body that exist because of the faith we have in the cause”.

“We will not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed. We will not allow ourselves to be driven by the tide into the great ocean of forgetfulness, but we will swim against the tide. We will continue to fight even where it looks as though there is no reason to do so”, Sir Roy assured the delegates.

“We are able, even in difficult times, in fact, because of difficult times, to reach out and touch the hand of the other brother and sister, the other comrade, and connect with that other brother and sister and comrade and endeavour to share a oneness of our focus in such a manner that we will not allow ourselves to be subsumed”, he said. Sir Roy was speaking at the opening ceremony of a regional seminar on Climate Change, organised by the International Transport Federation (ITF), at the Barbados Workers’ Union Labour College, on Monday, September 9. The seminar was attended by delegates from the ITF in the UK, Brazil, the OECS, Bermuda and Guyana. Sir Roy told the delegates that the Region was experiencing all kinds of difficulties. He added: “We in Barbados, like you, are in the same position. The economic crisis results from nothing that you have done or that your country has done. Rather, we have fallen victims to international gambling that took 12

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According to Sir Roy, there have been unprecedented levels of misery brought on by loose behaviour by those who might have found other means of financial success rather than gambling away our futures.

Resilience Sir Roy informed the delegates that the resilience that made Caribbean workers and trade unions the example for other trade unions around the world was the fact that, although “we have often been seen as being small and, sometimes, dismissed as being insignificant, we have been able to rise above our numbers”. “ We have been able to punch above our weight and size”, he said, “and we have been able, against odds, to turn the tide of adversity to bring success to our constituents and to our wider communities”. Noting that there are many people who would think that, on occasions like this, the time had come when it should be said that trade unions had lost their capacity to bring benefits to their members, Sir Roy recounted: “As recently as yesterday, the Press sought to put that challenge to me. I was able, on behalf of the trade unions in the Caribbean, to make the point that if we do not have the number of work stoppages


which we had before and we do not try to change by causing disruption at the level of the workplace, it is not because we cannot do so, but it is because we believe that we have arrived at a moment when we ought to be able to find another way”. Giving examples of that better way, Sir Roy said: “We have been succeeding in getting employers to join with us in accepting that that better way is a way of social dialogue”. He explained that it was by meeting at the table, trying to recognise together what the challenges were and endeavouring, by joint action, by moving towards a single focus to be able to overcome those difficulties and those challenges in such a way that the other side may say that it had won because the employer would have received part of what that employer wanted and workers would have received part of what they wanted – both sides, on the other hand, having had to surrender a little bit of the action, but neither walking away bruised, despondent nor despairing. g

Companies Have Work To Do To Improve Satisfaction

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ompanies around the globe have work to do to improve worker satisfaction because three in 10 employees say their workplace is not psychologically safe and healthy, according to a new poll, according to a Reuter’s news story. Whether it is due to stress, interpersonal conflict, frustration, lack of feedback or promotion, 27 percent of workers in 24 countries said they are not happy with the psychological aspects of their work environment, the survey by research company Ipsos for Reuters showed. “Employers need to pay attention to their employers mental health, not just their psychical health”, said Alexander Evershed, senior vice president, Ipsos Public Affairs. “Three in 10 is still a fairly large proportion and that goes up to 44 percent and 43 percent in Mexico and 42 percent in Hungary.” g

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A Few Key Differences Between The Safety And Health At Work Act (SHaW) And The Factories Act. The Safety and Health at Work Act (SHaW Act)

c.

will be proclaimed on or before January 1, 2013. Here is a brief look at some of the key differences between the SHaW Act and the Factories Act. 1.

What are the main differences between the Factories Act and the Safety and Health at Work Act?

Ans. The Safety and Health at Work (SHaW) Act retains many of the rights and responsibilities provided by the existing Factories Act Cap 347. There are however, some critical differences between these pieces of legislation. a.

Expectant Mothers d.

The most important difference is that the SHAW Act applies to almost all workplaces. Only the military, armed forces, domestic service in private households and some aspects of work done on board ships are not covered.

A second important feature is that it introduces the requirement that employers conduct risk assessments, this should be done prior to introducing any new material, article, equipment or process. This duty is also extended to any person who undertakes the design, importation or manufacture of any article for use at work. Therefore persons who supply equipment and other articles must ensure the elimination or reduction of any health and safety risks associated with the article. There is also a duty on persons who erect or install those articles to ensure that there are no risks to health once the article is properly used. Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers must therefore ensure that all relevant information is provided, such as operation manuals, material safety data sheets etc.

The SHaW Act makes special provisions for some categories of workers. Employers of new and expectant mothers must conduct risk assessments once the worker notifies the employer in writing of her condition. Depending on the outcome of the risk assessment, it may be necessary for the expectant or new mother to be given suitable alternative work during the pregnancy and for 6 months after the birth of the child. The objective of this provision is to protect the health of the mother and the unborn child.

Y T E F A S

Risk Assessments b.

Thirdly, employees as well as their representatives on safety committees and trade unions, have the right to access health and safety information on the use of materials, tools, articles or substances. Employee representatives on the Health and Safety Committee also have the right to copies of all reports relating to workplace safety and health conditions and the environment.

e.

IS S E N O for employers Y R E The SHaW Act also provides Y EV Lsuch I B to cater to employees withS special needs, I N Two particular as persons with disabilities. O P S areasE addressed are means of communicaR

tion that are effective to allow the worker to receive the information and warning in case of emergency. Fire alarms need to be visible and audible.

2.

What are the main powers to the Labour Department under SHaW Act?

Ans. The SHAW Act gives Safety and Health Officers certain power and authority that all workplaces need to be aware of. a.

Safety and Health Officers will be able to issue improvement and prohibition notices

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where they observe conditions that are not in keeping with the provisions of the SHaW Act. When an improvement notice is issued, the organisation would be allowed to continue the activity against which the notice was given while making the improvements required and stated on the notice. In the case of a prohibition notice however, the activity must be stopped until the required remedial or corrective action is taken. b.

Safety and Health Officers will have the right to enter and inspect at all reasonable times, any premises which they have reasonable cause to believe are workplaces covered by the Act. It must be clearly understood by employers and their representatives that officers will make unannounced visits to workplaces and that obstructing officers from carrying out their functions under this Act is an offence. While Officers will try to minimise disruptions to the organisation that may be caused by the timing of their visit, it is not the practice of the Labour Department to make appointments or give prior notice of inspection. Employers can therefore expect Safety and Health Officers to just turn up at their organizations and produce their Labour Department issued identification.

3.

What should workplaces do to prepare for proclamation?

a.

It is recommended that organisations obtain a copy of the Act from the Government Printing Department; in that way they can become au fait with the wide-ranging requirements.

b.

Safety and Health Committees should be established or Safety Delegates selected to assist the employer in managing OSH issues at the workplace.

c.

Adequate arrangements should be made to respond to emergencies, eg. training of a sufficient number of persons in first aid where necessary; all workplaces should have a well-

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stocked first aid kit in accordance with the approved list; fire drills should be carried out as well as fire extinguishers provided and maintained and persons trained to use these and other fire fighting equipment. d.

All pressure vessels eg. air compressors and boilers as well as lifting equipment eg. cranes, hoists and elevators should be examined by a Competent Person. This is not a new requirement but is already required under the current Factories Act; however, there is a need for significant improvement in this area, particularly in relation to elevators. The list of Competent Persons can be obtained from the Labour Department or from the Ministry of Labour’s website at www.labour.gov.bb.

e.

In organisations employing more than 10 persons, written safety and health policies should be prepared. g

At Home, Work, School & Play - Safety Is Always

& Health JOB # 1

Photograph compliments the Nation Publishing Company Limited


Not Merely Connected, But United

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n the occasion of the 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference of the Barbados Workers’ Union, the Executive Council honoured four persons who, in its estimation, dared to be different and who, in their pursuit of excellence and by their efforts in their fields, had contributed to Barbados and the Union, and whose work had been consistent with the theme of the 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference, which is “Not Merely Connected, but United”. They are: Dr. Carol Jacobs for her outstanding work in the area of public health particularly in HIV and Aids; Mr. Tyrone Applewhaite, Chief Environmental Health Officer, Ministry of Health for his exceptional work in environmental health; Ms Marcia Graham, retired principal of Hindsbury Primary and currently, Director of PAREDOS for her admirable work in education and community development; and journalist Mr. Emmanuel Joseph, of Barbados today, for his excellent pieces in the field of journalism, particularly investigative journalism. g

BWU President General Comrade Linda Brooks making the presentations of awards to (1) Emmanuel Joseph, (l), (2) Tyrone Applewhaite and (3) Ms. Marcia Graham. (4) Delegates to the BWU’s 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference register for the Conference. (5) Dr. Frank Marshall, Dean of St. Michael’s and All Angel’s Cathedral chats with Sir Roy Trotman (l). and the Chief Justice of Barbados, the Honourable Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados.

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The BWU’s 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference In Pictures

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Comrade Doreen Deane, Principal-designate of the BWU Labour College, addressing the BWU’s 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference. Members of the BWU Executive Council are pictured in the foreground at Solidarity House during the BWU’s 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference. The Chief Justice of Barbados the Honourable Marston Gibson as he addressed the BWU’s 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference, at “Solidarity House” on Saturday, August 31, 2012 Comrade Ulric Sealy, the outgoing Principal of the BWU Labour College, addresses the BWU’s 71st Annual Delegates’ Conference on Saturday, August 31st, 2012. BWU General Secretary Sir Roy Trotman (l) presents Dr. Carol Jacobs with an award for her outstanding work in the field of HIV/AIDS. At (r) is BWU President General Comrade Linda Brooks.

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One Quarter of Adult Bajans Have NCDs

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p to one quarter of all adult Barbadians have a chronic disease and, based on projections by the World Health Organisation (WHO), up to a third of all citizens will have a chronic disease by 2015. This grim prediction was made by Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, Dr. Lesley Rollock at the opening ceremony of a one-day seminar on “Labour’s Role in Promoting Wellness in the Workplace”, which was hosted by the Barbados Workers’ Union, in conjunction with The Knights Health Advantage Club at “Solidarity House” on Thursday, October 25, 2012. Some sixty human resource and personnel managers from the Private and Public sectors participated in the training programme. The opening session was attended by Mr. Edward Clarke, Managing Director of SAGICOR Life Inc, Mr. David Neilands, outgoing Managing Director of Supercentre Limited and Mrs. Sheena Warner, Project Officer, Commission for Chronic Diseases, Ministry of Health. At Risk Dr. Rollock revealed that 13 percent of the population in Barbados is over the age of 65 years, and that 50 percent of NCDs will affect the population under the years of 65 years of age by 2025. Therefore NCDs are not a group of diseases that affects older persons alone. We are all at risk whether from genetic susceptibility or more commonly risk factors. Speaking on the topic, “Status of NCDs in Barbados”, Dr. Rollock stated that NCDs, which include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, some cancers and respiratory disease, have a common thread; risk factors that make an individual more likely to develop a chronic disease. These risk factors include exposure to tobacco, low levels of physical activity and exercise,

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excessive use of alcohol, a diet high in saturated fat, salt, refined sugars and cholesterol and exposure to high levels of stress. Consistently over the last 10, chronic diseases have been the leading cause of death in Barbados with cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes representing the leading cause in that order. The seminar, which was designed principally for human resource managers, was organised to provide them with information on NCDs, i.e., how to manage them, their impact on the labour market, measures to control and reduce their incidence in the workplace, and methods employees can use to better self-manage these diseases. The seminar also assisted companies, among other things, with implementing a health care programme at workplaces and the establishment of a group approach to help staff to improve outcomes of NCDs. Extraordinary Initiative Sir Roy described the seminar as “an extraordinary initiative” for which the planners should be given full credit and for which the media should give that extra level of attention, which would prompt the exercise to be of so much in the eyes of, and in the presence of the public of Barbados that they could see the replication on a very major basis”. Sir Roy told the organisers that as he thought about the seminar, a story came to him from The Bible; it was a story which spoke to physical degeneration and he felt that Barbados was undergoing levels of physical degeneration at the same time the country was experiencing social development. According to Sir Roy, the story that came to him was that one of the agricultural workers, who, after having achieved a good crop, said that he would pull down his barns and build greater; and that he would say to his soul – soul, take thine ease and eat, drink and be merry. Sir Roy said that he was thinking of the


Dr. Lesley Rollock as she spoke at the seminar.

Barbados worker-person in that regard. His view was that we, as workers, had been doing our work in an effort to build greater barns and then having greater barns, and owning vehicles and other technology that facilitated ease of effort at work. At the same time, he said: “We drink and drink, eat and eat and become merrier and merrier with the result that our bodies suffer from all kinds of degeneracy because we fail to keep working on our own personal development and only work on our social upliftment”. Sir Roy’s fear was that, as trade unions sought to get improvements in the pockets of their members and in the places where they worked, trade unions were also becoming concerned regarding the workers’ apparent weakening as individuals as a consequence of the stressors which prevented them from enjoying those very benefits which they worked to get. As a consequence, he stated that ailments like hypertension, diabetes and mental disorders, were all being brought about because of the place of work, the nature of work, and the pressure of work. “It represents a contradiction in terms which everybody is battling with”, he said. Sir Roy believed that the seminar was well geared to treating with those issues, and to understanding that “one step, as this step today, would be a step in

Mr. Edward Charke of Sagicor Life and Mr. David Neilands of SuperCentre Ltd. attended the seminar.

the right direction in endeavouring to have us not running away from the problems that we are faced with, but in confronting those problems in a manner which is positive”. Among the other speakers at the opening ceremony were Mr. Orlando Scott, BWU Health and Safety Officer, Mr. Neville Brewster, Managing Director, Supercentre Limited, Dr. Oscar Jordan, Chairman of the Diabetes Foundation of Barbados, and Mr. Lennox Prescod, Consultant with the Knights Health Advantage Club. Dr. Carlisle Goddard, CEO, Barbados Diabetes Foundation, speaking on the topic, “Management of NCDs”, gave an excellent expose in relation to the self-management of NCDs, which drew a variety of questions from the participants.

SIT NOT If you top off a day slumped in front of a computer with an evening on the couch, you could be lopping off a year or more of your life. A US study published on July 9, 2012, in the online journal BMJ Open concluded limiting the time we spend sitting to just three hours a day could add an extra two years to our life expectancy. The authors The Unionist

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Dr. Oscar Jordan addresses the seminar. At (r) is Mr. Lennox Prescod.

Sir Roy Trotman as he spoke at the seminar. (l)

did not make a comment on occupational links, other than to suggest the situation could be complicated, “since one can be both sedentary and physically active (e.g. an office worker who sits most of his work hours, but who also jogs regularly)”. HAZARDS, July-September, 2012

HEART STRAIN A major US study has linked high strain, active jobs to a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in female health professionals. The study examined job factors and rates of CVD among 22086 participants in the women’s health study. Writing in the online journal PLoS ONE, the authors say the study “revealed that women with active jobs (high demand, high control) and high strain (high demand, low control) were 38 percent more likely to experience a first CVD event relative to women reporting low job strain, adjusting age, race, study

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drug randomization, education, and income.” They conclude:” Our findings suggest the need to develop interventions to improve to improve psychosocial characteristics of the work environment since this may have long-term benefits for cardiovascular health in women. Similarly, research is needed to develop and validate employee work models that minimize work stress.” g HAZARDS July- September 2012. Slopen N and others. Job strain, job insecurity, and incident cardiovascular disease in the Women’s Health Study: Results from a 10-Year Prospective Study, PLoS ONE 7(7): e40512, 2012. www.plosone.org


Offspring Can Be Damaged By Your Job

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he jobs men and women do can lead to birth defects in their offspring, two new papers suggest, according to the July-September edition of HAZARDS Magazine. The studies, both US-based, were published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine and were based on data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, an ongoing population based study. The study of maternal workplace exposure to organic solvents suggested they could cause several types of heart defects at birth. Industrial hygienists assessed the levels of workplace exposure to organic solvents in 5,000 women from across the US, from one month before conception through to the first three months of pregnancy. The levels of exposure were measured according to two approaches: an expert consensusbased approach and an approach based on the published evidence. The expert consensus approach indicates that around 4 percent of mothers whose babies did not have birth defects, and 5 percent of those who did, had been exposed to an organic solvent at about the time they were trying to conceive or early in pregnancy. This increased to 8 percent and 10 percent, respectively, using the published evidence.

solvents in the period from one month before conception to early pregnancy is a potential risk factor for several types of heart defects at birth. The second study found several types of jobs carried out by fathers may be linked to an increased risk of birth defects in their babies. The analysis found jobs that seemed to be associated with an increased risk of having a child with a birth defect in three or more categories included: mathematicians; physicists, computer scientists, artists, photographers, and photo processors, food service workers, landscapers and grounds men, hairdressers and make up artists, office and admin support workers, sawmill operatives, those working in chemical industries, printers, those operating cranes and diggers and drivers. Jobs associated with specific types of defect included artists (mouth, eyes and ears, gut, limbs, and heart), photographers and photo processors) cataracts, glaucoma, absence of or insufficient eye tissue), drivers (absence of or insufficient eye tissue, glaucoma), landscapers and grounds men (gut abnormalities). g Gilboa SM and others. Association between maternal occupational exposure to organic solvents and congenital heart defects, National Birth Defects Prevention Study, 1997 – 2002 and Desrosiers TA and others. Paternal occupation and birth defects: findings from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, both in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online First 17 July 2012. www.oem.bmj.com

The authors conclude their findings which they say ate not ‘definitive’, suggest that exposure to organic

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Putting Gender On Men’s Health And Safety Agenda Comrade Clement went on to state that men’s health and safety is a gender issue, and an issue which is important, not only to men, but to their female colleagues, their wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters – women; and so any responses to issues identified have to involve those women. The success of this programme can be seen in the determination of the members of the group to stay together, and to become members of the BWU’s Gender Equality Committee, where they can effectively participate in making the workplace and the society, a better, and an equitable place for men and for women. g

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wenty-one men, drawn from among the Union’s membership representing the Port, Transport, Sugar, Government, Construction, Distribution, Manufacturing and the Financial Sector, came together at the BWU Labour College over the period 2 – 4 October 2012 to examine issues in men’s health and safety and health at work. The group examined such issues as drug and alcohol dependency, dealt with diet and nutrition, HIV and AIDS and men’s reproductive health, among others. According to the Tutor at the Labour College, Comrade Wilma Clement “The Labour College accepts its responsibility, not only to educate and build awareness among workers, regarding their rights and responsibilities at work, but also to identify special groups, such as this group of men, and to provide the opportunity for them in a supportive, and empowering environment, to look, from their perspective, at how they are impacted upon by the issues in the workplace, and in society in general”

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711 Years Cl Climbing the Stairway of Success The Barbados Nation National Oil Companies extends congratulations to the Barbados Worke Workers Union on its accomplishments. Your 71 years of existence are characterised by your attention to the development of the country’s working class, thus playing a significant role in the shaping of the economy. As producers of Crude Oil, Natural Gas and Liquified Petroleum (LPG) our goals have always included the social and physical well-being of our labour force. And so we understand your mission. We wish The Barbados Worker’s Union Continued success


Maintaining Health And Safety In The Use Of Agrochemicals by Kerryann Branford, Safety and Health Officer, Occupational Safety and Health Section, Labour Department

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ver the past few months there have been calls from numerous local experts for greater involvement and investment in the agricultural sector in Barbados on both small and large scales. Intricately linked to the success of this sector is an increase in the new technologies that have arisen in the last few years particularly in the areas of the machinery and chemicals used. Hinged on these advances in technology are increases in the types of risk that persons working in this sector may be exposed to. Injuries and illness can have a significant impact on persons’ livelihoods and business and, as such, the safety and health of workers should be seen as a priority in this sector. Of particular note is the effect that agrochemicals may have on the human body when used inappropriately. The Labour Department takes this opportunity to educate everyone, whether presently involved in the agricultural sector or planning to become involved in the future, of the best practices associated with handling hazardous substances so commonly used in the agricultural sector. Chemicals Many chemicals are used throughout the agricultural sector for a variety of reasons such as for promoting plant growth or controlling pests. Chemicals commonly used on agricultural properties include fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, animal medications, acids, cleaning agents and solvents. The statutory requirements, when using chemicals and the general provision of safety and health measures for persons employed in the agricultural sector, are mandated in the Factories Act, Cap. 347. In addition, the Safety and Health at Work Act 200512, which will be proclaimed on or before January 1st 2013, also makes it mandatory for these provisions to be put in place. The Safety and Health at Work Act 2005-12 explicitly states that the employer has

the duty to ensure the safety of workers while they are using, handling, storing or transporting substances. The Effects of chemicals on the human body Chemicals, when not handled correctly, can have diverse detrimental effects on human health and can significantly impact parts of the body such as the skin and the respiratory, reproductive and central nervous systems. These effects are determined by factors such as the concentration of the chemical, the duration of exposure, the route of entry of the chemical into the body and the physical and chemical properties of the chemical. Chemicals in solid form may cause toxic effects on health if they get onto the skin, are ingested or the vapours are inhaled. Many chemicals are found in liquid form and these may be absorbed into the skin. In some instances liquids may pass directly through the skin into the bloodstream where they are circulated throughout the body and may have detrimental effects on different organs. Inhalation The effects of chemicals on the human body can either be local or systemic. Where local reactions occur, the site of contact with the chemical is directly affected and may range from minor irritation to The Unionist

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severe tissue damage. Inhalation of chemical vapours may cause injury to the lungs and respiratory tract, while ingesting chemicals may cause damage to the mouth, stomach and intestines. Not all reactions are immediate, however, and symptoms may present only after repeated exposure, causing a systemic reaction. In such situations, the chemical has entered the blood stream and is circulated through the body where it may damage certain “target organs� such as the lungs and liver.

exposed to chemicals on a recurrent basis and there is a possibility that a systemic reaction may occur, it is best to provide frequent medical checks to monitor the health of the worker with a view to early detection of any negative changes to health. In fact, the Safety and Health at Work Act 2005-12 allows the Minister with responsibility for Labour to make Regulations requiring the provision of medical supervision for employees or young persons whose health may be at risk because of substances being used or handled in the workplace.

There are many ways that persons can handle Chemical Storage chemicals safely with little to no effects on their health. The most effective method of ensuring that Storage of hazardous substances is also important chemicals are used in the safest manner possible is in ensuring health and safety in agribusiness. The by reviewing the Material Safety Data Sheets which specific storage instructions for any chemical can accompany all chemicals. A Material Safety Data be found in the accompanying MSDS but there are Sheet (MSDS) provides information on chemicals some general storage guidelines which should be such as instructions on how they should be stored followed unless otherwise stated by the MSDS. and used, how to avoid harm Chemical Storage Tips: when using them and the emergency procedures to be taken if necessary. This document should be provided The storage room should be adequately ventilated by the supplier to the employer and chemicals should not be stored in direct sunlight; on the purchase of the chemical. The employer should, in turn, Storage shelves should not be overloaded and containers review the document and at the bottom of the stack The floor of the storage room should not be compressed; 1 ensure that every person who is should be designed in such a way that spills or leaks are contained expected to handle hazardous and can be easily cleaned. 2 substances has access to the MSDS and is fully trained to use the substance.

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As was previously stated, some symptoms of chemical exposure are not immediately manifested and give a systemic reaction. Where persons are

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3

6

Medical Surveillance

Containers to which chemicals are transferred should be made of appropriate materials to avoid a reaction with the contents;

4

All c visib ontain le an ers sh whe d legib ould h av le re re pack labels e clear , es agin g is pecially don e;

5

The storage area should be fitted with appropriate signage to indicate that agrochemicals are being stored there and;

s cal er; mi che ogeth e l ib dt pat store om n-c ot be o N ld n u sho


Safe Chemical Use Hazardous substances should always be used according to the manufacturers’ specifications. The information needed to safely handle hazardous substances can be found in the MSDS and some chemicals may carry instructions for use on the labels of the containers. Generally, the smallest amount of a chemical needed to complete a task should be used and chemicals should not be mixed unless the manufacturer’s instructions indicate what other substances they can be mixed with and how such mixing should occur.

Figure 2: Mechanical spraying of a field

It is also necessary to ensure that the equipment which is used for applying chemicals is of sound construction. In particular, handheld equipment such as backpack spray applicators and cans should be checked regularly to make certain that they are not leaking. Chemical substances which have been banned by the national authority should not be used in agricultural enterprises. For example the pesticide Chlordane and the insecticide Dieldrin have been banned by Barbados. Both of these chemicals are extremely toxic to a wide range of animals, including humans and impact the environment negatively as well. Recently there has been an introduction into the market of chemical products which are considered to be as effective as, yet less hazardous than, some frequently used products. Where it is possible, safer alternative

chemicals should be used to replace more hazardous substances. Chemicals, on a whole, should be used only when necessary. Personal Protective Equipment When working with chemicals, the correct and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn. Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to the articles which persons wear to protect themselves from hazardous substances or conditions and is usually used as a last resort because measures should first be put in place to eliminate the hazard. However, there are some situations where PPE must be worn. Chemical handling is one such occasion in which PPE should be worn. Both the Factories Act and the Safety and Health at Work Act, 2005-12 require that the employer take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of employees. As such, it is the employer’s responsibility, not only to provide suitable PPE for workers, but also to ensure that such PPE is used correctly. In addition, the aforementioned pieces of legislation recognise that the employee also has responsibility for wearing his PPE and states that not doing so is an offence. The PPE which should be worn when using chemicals is stated in the MSDS. In order for the PPE to be effective it must be worn correctly and must be in good condition. It is, therefore, imperative that efforts be made to ensure that the PPE selected fits each worker properly and is worn correctly whenever the individual is handling the chemical. In addition, regular examination of PPE is necessary to make sure that it is in good working order prior to use and, when wear and tear is noticed, use should be discontinued and it should be promptly replaced. Storage of PPE is of extreme importance as certain conditions may promote faster deterioration of the equipment. For example, extremes of temperature or moist conditions may reduce the integrity of some

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PPE. Also, PPE should be stored in an area which is adequately separated from the hazardous substances storage area and should be cleaned before and after each use. In Barbados, there is a habit of wearing inappropriate clothing while working with chemicals in the field. Of note is the practice of wearing scarves around the nose and mouth while spraying with the notion that this would effectively protect against inhalation of the chemical. In addition there are many occasions where persons work in the field in inappropriate clothing such as without shirts or in slippers. From the information provided earlier in this article it is evident that this type of clothing does not adequately protect the workers and, in fact, causes greater damage to workers’ health as they are more exposed to the hazards associated with chemical exposure. Personal Hygiene Due to the diverse methods by which chemicals can affect the body, it is critical that good personal hygiene is practiced by workers whenever they come into contact with chemical substances. To aid in the practice of good personal hygiene, safety legislation requires the provision of suitable welfare facilities such as sanitary conveniences, lunchrooms, washing facilities and clothing accommodation. It is possible for residual particles from chemicals to remain on clothing after chemical exposure. In order to avoid contaminating others, work clothing should be changed prior to leaving the work compound. Additionally, work clothing should be washed separately from domestic clothing. With a view to reducing the incidence of ingesting chemicals, drinking, eating and smoking should be prohibited in areas where chemicals are mixed, poured or sprayed. Also, hand and body washing must be practiced after each chemical exposure, especially prior to eating, handling food, smoking or going to the bathroom.

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In summary, to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector in Barbados it is necessary to ensure that high safety and health standards are achieved and maintained for all persons involved in the agricultural industry. Promoting safe and responsible chemical use is one such way that improved safety and health can be accomplished. The draft agricultural policy, ‘Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines for the Agricultural Sector in Barbados’, provides useful information on many aspects of safety and health within this sector, including sound management of chemicals. The Labour Department stands ready to be of assistance to persons who may require further aid in promoting and maintaining high standards of occupational safety and health in Barbados. g The Labour Department 2nd Floor East Warrens Office Complex Warrens St. Michael Tel: 310-1524 Fax: 424-2589 Email: labour@labour.gov.bb Resources: International Labour Organisation, 2000. Occupational Safety and Health in Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Rearing. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/default. html. Accessed August 16th, 2010. The Labour Department, Draft Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines for the Agricultural Sector in Barbados.


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Sister Verneta Durant Retires

Pictures From The BWU Retirees' Founders' Day Activities

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ister Verneta Durant of the Nurses’ Assistants Aides Association (NAAB), a sister union of the BWU and an affiliate of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, gave 44 years of faithful and committed service to the Psychiatric Hospital at Black Rock in St. Michael. And on Tuesday, September 17th, in the presence of her parents, Mr. Fitz Brereton and Mrs. Brereton, husband Andy Durant and son, Matthew, her work colleagues and the trade union fraternity in Barbados rewarded her in honeyed words and gifts for her excellent work in the area of mental health and her loyalty and commitment to the trade union movement in Barbados. Sister Brereton has been a long-standing member of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), where she has served for many years as Chair of the Special Events’ Committee. g

Scenes from the Barbados Workers' Union Retirees' Founders' Day activities which were held in the Hugh Springer Auditorium, Solidarity House on Saturday. October 7, 2012. In picture (1) members of the audience pay attention to the proceedings; in picture (2) the co-ordinator of the event, Comrade Yvonne Walks addresses the audience and in picture (3) two of the actors perform on stage.

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What is Bullying?

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ullying, as a safety and health issue in schools, has been the centre of much discussion across the globe in the past few years as students who have been victims of bullying have either committed suicide, injured themselves, or have suffered serious psychological strain.

But there is also another source of bullying - workplace bullying which has not gained much public attention, but which is similarly harmful to the victims. Bullying in the workplace has been described in various ways. The Health and Safety Authority’s defines bullying as “repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individuals’ right to dignity at work.” Examples of behaviour that may constitute bullying are as follows: - purposely undermining someone; targeting some for special negative treatment; manipulation of an individual’s reputation; social exclusion or isolation; intimidation; aggressive or obscene language; jokes that are obviously offensive to one individual by spoken work or email’ intrusion by pestering, spying and stalking; unreasonable assignments to duties which are obviously

unfavourable to one individual; and unrepeated requests with impossible deadline or impossible tasks. Employees have both rights and responsibilities. Employees have a duty to their colleagues not to bully them, and have rights if they are accused of bullying, which must also be defended. This is where bullying departs from other hazards at work as people who are accused have employment rights which mean that they cannot simply be removed if they are harming others, but the issue must be progressed fairly and transparently so that everybody’s rights are simultaneously met. Risk Of Injury Where a bullying culture has been identified, (through a number of complaints being received, for instance) employees must take reasonable measures to prevent incidents of bullying occurring through awareness raising and training as well as reacting speedily to resolve issues early/progress investigations and/or control measures). When and if they are bullying occurs, employers should prevent the risk of injury to the health of employees worsening by providing and implementing support and assistance through the process, and reviewing and monitoring the environment afterwards, as far as is reasonable. Managers and supervisors have a particular responsibility to promote dignity in the workplace for all. They should be alert to the possibility of bullying and be familiar with the policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of bullying. Their behaviour may be modeled by others as it may be considered acceptable. That is why managers, supervisors and those in authority should be aware of their own behaviour at work and not engage in improper conduct in any form. g

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BWU Netball Tournament Opens

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he opening ceremony of the Barbados Workers’ Union 33rd annual netball tournament got underway against the backdrop of heavy afternoon showers and a colourful parade of teams, at the Netball Stadium, Waterford in St. Michael on Sunday, September 9. Thirty-five teams participated in the competition this year in four zones – The Sir Roy Trotman Zone, Linda Brooks Zone, Ulric Sealy Zone and the Gabby Scott Zone. Thirty teams participated in the tournament last year. Minister of Sport, the Honourable Stephen Lashley delivered the feature address and then met the teams. BWU General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman, in brief

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The Unionist

remarks, told the netballers and audience, spoke to the efforts the Barbados Workers’ Union was spearheading to organise training programmes in the various disciplines to empower the netballers to deal with life’s issues on the field of play and on their day activities. The BWU has won the support of the National Sports’ Council and the Barbados Netball Association in the planning and execution of these training sessions. Among the subjects covered are ‘Communications’ and ‘Conflict Resolution’. Our intention in the Barbados Workers’ Union is to train the netballers not merely in being able to handle conflict on the field of play, but to empower them to deal with these issues in their every-day life. g


Comrade Ulric Sealy Retires

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omrade Ulric Sealy, the Principal of the Barbados Workers’ Union Labour College, will retire from that post on December 31, 2012. The following conversation with The Unionist begins with Comrade Sealy’s employment at the now defunct Bata Shoe Company, where he was unionised. The discussion ends as he speaks about his years at the Labour College as Tutor and Principal. What is it that motivated you to join the BWU? It goes back to the mid 1970s. I had, hitherto, worked at places like Barclays Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank which were not unionised and where there was no influence to join the Union; but when in the mid 1970s I joined the staff of the BATA Shoe Company, which was a unionised environment, I readily became a member of the Barbados Workers’ Union. This was easy, since I already had an affinity with the working class movement. I, being a country

boy whose mother was a field labourer and whose father was a factory worker, had no difficulty in linking with the Union. The late Comrade Donald Durant, the then shop steward at Bata, did not have a difficult task in recruiting me into the Union. Comrade Durant knew of my interest in educational pursuits and his lure was to invite me to participate in the programmmes of the newly established Labour College (which was opened in September 1974). I had been attracted to the Labour Movement before that time, but by attending the Labour College and interacting with university lecturers like Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (now Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines), the late Pat Emmanuel of Grenada and Dr. Frank Alleyne (now Professor Sir Frank Alleyne), and others who, in those days, delighted in coming to the Labour College on evenings and engaging students in lengthy sessions on social and economic development. That environment was captivating and led to the development of my interest in Labour Education and the Trade Union Movement and I have never looked back. That environment also motivated me towards entering the University of the West Indies, from which I graduated in 1985 with Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration. How has your involvement in the Labour Movement impacted on your life? I have always considered myself as tolerant, caring and compassionate, and the Labour Movement has helped me even more so, to better underscore those qualities, which I believe are in persons who are divinely chosen to assist people. The Labour Movement has made me become more discerning of that role and function, because we do see people who The Unionist

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are suffering economically and socially. It has helped me to become more discerning of my role as someone who has been placed here to help people. Having been a member and employee of the Barbados Workers’ Union for more than 40 years, what, in your assessment, has been Labour’s contribution to national development? I can answer that question by stating simply that the trade union movement has made a substantial contribution to national development. But I need to elaborate. I have seen the Union living up to its mandate of creating a better society for its members, a better society in terms of social acceptance and a better society in terms of the workers being able to participate more fully in the economic rewards of the society by virtue of being paid better wages, meaning they have something to spend, in addition to they enjoying more comfortable living and working conditions. People go to work for social identification, but more importantly people go to work for economic rewards so that they may participate more fully in the market place. I have seen the Union doing that and continuing to do that. It is with pride in the working class when you see workers come to the Labour College and having completed the programme, you see a transformation being brought about in their personalities and their whole approach to functioning as a union member. Indeed they will tell you “…Before I came here I saw myself as an ordinary member….. I went through the work-day expecting that when I went wrong I would be protected by the Union .-.just like having an insurance policy, but I now have a different perspective”. When they complete the training programmes they confess that they did not even know that these kinds of subjects were taught at the College. They say: “I thought that I had to go to certain institutions/schools to hear these things”. Many persons have their particular views about the role of the Labour College; but what does the College do in terms of shaping the thinking of the average worker?

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The Unionist

The Labour College seeks to educate the worker on matters that impact their lives as workers, and, generally, as citizens of Barbados. To me the Labour College contributes significantly in making the average member a more rounded worker and citizen – one who is better equipped to understand his social, economic and political environment. But some people may say that workers go to the Labour College to become a stronger trade union member. If some people claim that workers attend the Labour College to become stronger trade unionists they have said the correct thing. It’s really a question of how you seek to interpret that statement. The Labour College fashions a worker into being a good trade unionist because a trade union person is a responsible citizen and worker. Some people use that phrase in a pejorative sense, but we can put the appropriate spin to it. Sometimes people say things but do not know what they are saying. The Labour College was established to assist those persons who participate in its programmes to become better citizens and there are many enlightened employers who embrace this concept, who embrace the Labour College and who give release to workers to undergo training. Sad to say, there are regrettably some who are reactionary in thought and who seem to think that we bring workers to the College to mould them into becoming belligerent and ready to strike and that type of nonsense. Where has the Labour College gone in terms of new technology? We are coming up to scratch, having manifested our involvement in the technological age. As you know, the general studies programme which we run at the Labour College is paralleled with the training we conduct in the computer studies at “Solidarity House”. It will not happen in my time but the College is vigorously pursuing the concept of on-line teaching. I am sure that by the climax of 2013 we would have established our name in respect of on-


line learning programmes. You can be assured that the Labour College is keeping in touch with what is demanded of it. When we reflect on the student demographic of the Labour College we have moved from a position back in the 1970s when sugar workers made up a substantial number of the participants of the Labour College, to a position where there is a far more diverse grouping. In the 1970s, we had a significant number of participants from the sugar industry and the agricultural sector in general and those seminars were often oversubscribed. Those days are over. Not that we have ceased to enlighten people on matters such as the philosophy of the Trade Union Movement but there seems to be other factors that are distracting them. I believe our numbers, even though we are holding our own in terms of participants in the Labour College’s programmes, can be better. I believe our numbers, in terms of people coming to the Labour College, will be challenged because of the higher education institutions and what they can do for the average person. As you know we are not a diploma-granting institution. We provide social education which is what Labour Education is, but, the challenge may be in the fact that people are getting into university much more easily now and they may opt to go to the university or community college, I believe those institutions are the places that are challenging us in terms of numbers.  What contribution has the Labour College played in the stability of the industrial relations climate?  The Labour College has made a significant contribution to the industrial relations climate in Barbados. It has been responsible for the removal of a lot of the hostility and the competitiveness from industrial relations in Barbados. For the simple reason that our whole approach to conflict resolution and problem solving (we do a great deal of training in problem solving and filter it into collective bargaining and negotiations) is collaborative and not competitive.

When management and workers go to the table to deal with a problem they can easily embrace the collaborative/win-win approach as against the competitive/win-lose approach. This approach embodies such ”Harvard School” principles as viewing the negotiations as ‘problem solving’, being hard on the problem and soft on the person, and Looking for mutually acceptable ways to dealing with the problem. As recently as last week I made it clear to participants that after the negotiations, workers and management will have to operate in a common social space, and that how the negotiations are conducted will have implications for a sustainable agreement.  I would not say soften, but it has given people a more developmental approach to deal with the problem, how worker and management can divide the cake. What would you like to have retired from the office of Principal of the Labour College and feel happy about? Even though we were not initially designed as a higher learning education institution, that perhaps, is conditioned by the time when the Labour College was established, we need also to be focusing on persons who desire a higher level qualification (postgraduate diplomas, certificates, etc.,), awarded through conventional lines of evaluating - putting us in a league with the university, the BCC, BIMAP, and the School of Continuing Studies. But we have been working on that over time. The process might be somewhat slow, because of the various changes to undergo and the various requirements to be met. What makes you happy? I have worked at many places in my life but this has been the most uplifting, fulfilling and invigorating as a trade union operative, particularly in the delivery of worker education. There is an old Comrade, a wellknown past BWU activist, Napoleon (“Commissar”) Layne who would say to me: “Comrade Sealy, you are the Principal of the Labour College? You are the

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most powerful man in the Labour Movement; you are dealing with people’s minds”. As much as I was a student of the social sciences (and still am), it did not click. But, overtime, when I saw people come to the Labour at one level of understanding and then leave transformed and become as disciples of the Union and the College, it is then that I understood what “Commissar” meant; because I am in a transforming business and that is what makes me happy. Not only did I see myself helping to transform their lives but being among them has and will always be a source of transformation in my life, making me the person that I am. It’s like a work in progress. For example, everyday you come to teach you have to think of varying the approach. You have to be always researching and looking for a better way to reach people. It’s a dynamic relationship.

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The Unionist

Of all the places I’ve worked, I can say that the trade union movement has created the most powerful impact on my life and I give thanks to God for directing me along this path. I thank the workers for giving me the opportunity to be with them and I thank those Comrades who have appointed me to positions of influence within the labour movement. In a bourgeoisie society where you have Capital and Labour, as we understand them, the trade union movement is second only to God as a saviour of the working class. So I would admonish all members of the working class to stand firm behind the trade union in general and the leadership in particular. Best wishes and God’s blessings for the Labour Movement in general and the Barbados Workers’ Union in particular as the latter continues to pursue justice for the working class and society. g


Comrade Michael “Andy”Coward

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ichael “Andy” Coward made a worthy presentation on the work of his fellow postal workers, at a service at the Lodge Road Wesleyan Church, Christ Church, to mark Barbados’ 46th anniversary of independence. He was among a number of professionals who attended that church and who spoke on the nature of their jobs. The following is Comrade Coward’s presentation: Before the establishment of the General Post Office in Barbados, the Mounted Police did the conveying of letters to various parts of the island. One day a riot occurred at a plantation and there were not enough police to handle the situation because many of them were busy delivering mail. It was then noted that it was impossible for the Police Force to discharge both their duties of delivering mail and policing at the same time. In 1852, the existing system of using the Police was abandoned and the delivery of inland mail was taken over by several persons appointed as postmen. From that time until now postmen have been delivering most of the mail throughout all parts of the island. A postman’s daily routine can start with the clearing of a letter box on his way to the office. On reaching the office the postman date stamps these letters and then distributes them on the sorting rack according to their various routes and destinations. He then takes out the mail from the section the rack for the route assigned to him on the given day. This mail is then sorted in delivery sequence, i.e. according to how houses or businesses are located. If mail is not sorted this way, it would not be delivered on a timely basis as much turning around would be done and time would be wasted, not to mention the many errors that could occur. All the mail that is distributed on the sorting rack does not come from the letter boxes, but the bulk of the mail comes from the General Post Office via the

mail van which comes twice daily. You the public of Barbados are most fortunate because • we, the postmen deliver to all points that can be delivered to, whilst in other countries persons have to call the post office to find out if mail is there for them so that they may come and collect it; and • We deliver by addressee mostly and not just the address as many other countries do. For example, John Smith who lives at #5 Church Road, Easy Hall, St. George will still receive his mail despite the mail is addressed as #8 Church Hall, Easy George, St. George. At times there are instances where there are two people with a similar name and address but we know who is to get what, meaning we know our customers individually and by family, so mail is then delivered personally. For instance a Robert A. Taylor of Sky Heights would not receive mail that is addressed to Robert G. Taylor of Sky Heights. Postmen can encounter challenges while carrying out their duties, at times we can be chased and even bitten by dogs; suffer the theft of our motor-cycles being stolen, or avoiding an accident whilst delivering mail on increasingly busy roads. At times we may be asked to go beyond the call of duty. At times we buy stamps, cash cheques, collect parcels, go to the shop, and collect medication amongst many other requests made by persons who live on our routes. We also provide the listening ear for the elderly, the lonely and the needy. Therefore we are confidential in all our doings. But whatever it is that we the postmen and postwomen of this nation do, we are very grateful that we can serve our country by giving the public of Barbados a service that is next to none. So when you hear: “Inside, post, morning, anybody home?” you know that it is a postman approaching your home with your personal mail. Thank you and have a wonderful day. g

The Unionist

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ion The Barbados Workers’ Un s a tm is r h C y r r e M a u o y s e wish and a Happy New Year. with h ic r e b s a tm is r h C r u o y y a M , ip sh d n ie fr h it w m r a w , ve family lo d happy with life's goodness an n. so a se e th f o s y jo e th h it w d e bless

Vol 19 No 14  

A trade union publication

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