By anguillian July 31, 2017 12:26




Trade unions are crucial in transforming the economy since they fight for the democratic inclusion of all participants. So said union activist David Cichon.
It is always a delight to welcome to our shores our brothers and sisters from other Caribbean islands and it is especially gratifying to do so on occasions such as this when we in Anguilla roll out our red carpet, so to speak, to welcome and host delegations from around the Caribbean as you debate and adopt resolutions on topical issues affecting the social and economic welfare of our people. Even in the Caribbean among our own as it were, Anguilla is seen as somewhat off the beaten track and added to that is the expense of getting here. So we are always happy to welcome you and to take every advantage to change that perception and to introduce as many Caribbean nationals as possible to Anguilla – the gem among the jewels in the Caribbean. As you sojourn here with us over the next few days you will understand and appreciate why Anguilla was just recently voted as the best island in the Caribbean by Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards 2017.
And so I bid you all a hearty welcome to Anguilla, members of the CPSA. I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to welcome you at this time in my capacity as Ministerial Assistant in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Education, Labour and Immigration as well as on behalf of the Government and people of Anguilla. Let me at this juncture apologise for my Minister Mrs Cora Richardson-Hodge who unavoidably could not be here this evening as well as the Hon Chief Minister who was overseas on official business.
Your theme is particularly relevant at this time in light of the fact that gone are the days when the thinking was that unions were just about increased wages and conditions of service for their members, as well as to dispel the myth echoed by some employers that unions are destructive forces in our nations. We must now change our thinking and focus on what unions can do in terms of transformation and human advancement for the development of the socio economic development of our nations.
Anguilla has just celebrated 50 years since our momentous revolution in 1967 under the leadership of the Father of the Nation – the Late Hon James Ronald Webster. The various political, economic and social initiatives for the building of the new and modern Anguilla following the Revolution included the development of trade unionism in the new established post-1967 Anguilla Public Service. I was priviledged to be a part of those early beginnings of the Anguilla Civil Service Association back in 1973. In fact I was one of the first secretaries of the Anguilla Civil Service Association under the presidency of the late Mr Clive Carty. It was under my tenure as Secretary that ACSA sought and was accepted as a member of the CPSA. In this same early period, teachers, nurses and police banded themselves together respectively to represent their interests as workers into the Anguilla Teachers Union, the Nurses Association and the Police Welfare Association, each together with ACSA representing the interests of their members in what was then an extremely small public service.
The opportunity for a unified umbrella trade union in the Anguilla Public Service did not result in success and the situation has remained splintered ever since, with close collaboration and unity of purpose proving to be weak drivers of the trade union movement in the public sector.
Unity of purpose is one of the trademarks of the trade union movement. The international Confederation of Free Trade Unions defines a trade union as “….a continuing permanent democratic organization, voluntarily created and run by workers:
To protect themselves at their work and to improve the conditions of their work, through collective bargaining.
To seek to better the conditions of their lives;
To secure their natural rights; and
To provide an effective means of expression for the workers’ view on problems of society.”
Your theme is extremely topical at this time of extreme political instability and social and economic stress in our islands.
The political, economic and social context of our societies in which trade unions exist and operate today, present major challenges to the leadership of unions in the public and the private sectors to adapt and adjust the focus of their representation of their members to achieve more short term traditional trade union goals and more long term goals and functions that contribute to the sustainable advancement of our societies.
The severe economic and social shocks of the last eight or more years present a challenge to public service unions to rethink their priorites and their strategies. As a consequence of the loss of jobs nationally, declining GDP, sluggish growth and direct foreign investment, continuing budget deficits, the traditional narrow focus on the sectional interests of public service employees could have significant negative macro economic effects that could be counterproductive to the perceived interests of their members.
The trend towards the strengthening of the tripartite approach to industrial relations needs to be given more emphasis as capital and labour are inextricably bound together. This I know was the concept and intention of the Internationl Labour Organization when the Promotion of Management Labour Cooperation (PROMALCO) was initiated some years ago as a social dialogue tool to strengthen the tripartite relationship between all stakeholders in the industrial relations climate – Government, Employers and Employees.
It is an undeniable fact that the public sector will always be here. So it is imperative that all stakeholders seek to contribute to its long term viability.
It is my hope and expectation that the CPSA will take a lead role in assisting its member associations in repositioning themselves to play the dual role as partners in the social compact to help generate sustainable growth and improvement in the quality of life and advancement of not only its members, but of their fellow citizens as a whole.
During my campaign in the 2015 general elections, I spoke to the importance for strong trade unions in Anguilla and in the development process of a country. And this is what I had to say in part then then.
“I recall from my days as Labour Commissioner, the need for such was recognized and I encouraged workers to organize themselves because is only so much that the Labour Department can do within the limits of the present labour legislation.”
“As we operate in a more competitive and globalized environment, the need for a more organized and professionally well structured industrial relations climate, is of paramount importance. And so I wish to stress the point that a well-run and organized labour union does so much more than procuring wage increases or improving working conditions for its members. It can also positively impact and contribute to the socio economic development of the island through the education of its members to ensure a high standard of productivity, increased profitability and competitiveness as well as good customer service and an improvement in the industrial relations climate generally…
A good union is about educating its employees to give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage. It is about educating its members that they cannot expect to go to work every day late, or be frequently absent from work sometimes without a valid excuse and without consideration for the attendant consequences. It is about educating its members that it is not right to steal from their employers. It is about educating its members about the importance of loyalty, trust and confidentiality in the workplace. It is about the adverse consequences of sexual harassment in the workplace.
It is about educating employers that is it not right to instill fear in the minds of their employees that if they joined a union their jobs would be jeopardized. It is about educating workers and employers about health and safety standards in the workplace. It is about educating them of their rights of freedom of association and the protection of their rights to organize as set out in the International Labour Organization Convention No. 87. It is about your rights to organize and to collective bargaining. And so I say to you workers of this island have no fear about taking membership in a Union.”
Let me add here Government’s commitment to ensuring that the relevant and necessary legislative framework is put in place to ensure the effective and efficient administration of the industrial relations climate in Anguilla. It is hoped that in short order a more modernized and updated Labour Code with provisions reflective of the present day realities will be brought before the House of Assembly for passage into law.
I notice that part of your deliberations this week will focus on the Draft Caricom Public Service Charter.
The draft Charter highlights the critical importance of the public services to the economic and social development in the region and was developed with the following objectives in mind:
1. Establishing a common ethical basis for the delivery of public services in subscribing states
2. Ensuring that the public services of the region are effective, efficient, responsive, adaptive and service-oriented
3. Forming a basis for the delivery of quality and innovative service that meets the needs of our societies
4. Fostering collaboration of subscribing states in modernizing administration and strengthening institutional capacity for improved public services, and
5. Encouraging the harmonization of policies and procedures related to Public Service and Administration among Member States with the aim of promoting regional integration.
These objectives can only be achieved with the integral assistance of public servants through their public service unions. Therefore this 47th CPSA Conference is an opportune time to discuss and deliberate on this Charter as it will affect you all.
As you go through the Charter you will see that it holds Public Servants to a standard higher than the rest of society. As public servants what the public expects from you is that higher standard. When public servants are unethical, unpleasant or unhelpful it reverberates throughout our societies. The charter speaks to:
Your ethics and honesty; your impartiality; your efficiency and effectiveness; your accountability; your fairness and equity in dealing with your customers; your openness and transparency in decision-making; your competency and capacity to carry our your jobs; your independence from political interference in appointments to positions; your innovation in improving the services offered to your customers; and your regional integration dedication.
As public servants I charge you to live up to the higher standards that will be enshrined in the CPSA Charter. The winners will not only be you, but also your country and by extension the region.
I must express thanks to the Anguilla Civil Service Association for hosting this conference even during these austere times and for helping to put Anguilla a little more on the map as a place to visit and a suitable venue to host regional conferences and meetings. Well done. We are particularly proud to note that our own Susan Hodge held the presidency of the CPSA for the last two years and I am confident that she was able to do an incredible job. Congratulations to her and to her successor when he or she is chosen and I do wish him or her an equally successful tenure as President.
Before concluding this presentation I believe that it is in order that I honourably mention and celebrate our regional agencies such as the ILO (subregional Office in Trinidad) CARICAD and others for what they have been doing and continue to do to assist and advance the transformation of the Public Services in our region for the greater good of our members and nations. And so I leave with you one simple message as articulated by our Minister the Rev Dr Wycherley Gumbs in his sermon this morning and this is: “There needs to be a change in our attitudes”. For real and genuine change and transformation each one of us here must first begin to examine ourselvles and change our negative attitudes. We are indeed in very challenging economic times. Times when we have to do more with less, where value for money is a shifting paradigm. So Rev Gumbs was so right because this calls for critical transformation and renewing of our minds and attitudes if we are intentional in getting our public services to improve in performance in order to enhance our economic growth, development and sustainability. It therefore calls for innovation, creativity, and responsiveness to the needs and expectations of the people we serve – our customers.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Mary a sad girl. So I do hope and trust that especially if you are visiting for the first time that some provision has been made for you to be given the opportunity to savour our uncomparable beautiful beaches and our warm hospitality.
Again Welcome and do have a successful and productive conference and safe journeying mercies as you return to your respective homes following the conclusion of your conference. God Bless and thank you.

(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)

By anguillian July 31, 2017 12:26


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