Notes From The Margin

February 14, 2008

The Royal Rumble…..

Well after simmering for a few weeks the Royal Shop Vs. Barbados Workers Union is beginning to bubble. On the one hand the owner of the Royal Shop insists it is a straightforward case of a worker refusing to follow a reasonable instruction on the other hand the BWU is maintaining that the worker in question was fired for trying to organise the Royal Shop workforce.

The drama has rolled on through several acts, with allegations of untruths and insults being thrown around, the parties have met several times and there has been no shifting of positions. The latest salvo in the firestorm has the union reaching for perhaps its biggest gun, that of a national strike.

Now the Union actually doesn’t have many cards to play against the Royal Shop, there is no other unionised workforce there that it can call out, so it can’t stop the store from working. Further because of the smallness of the operation it can be run by literally a few people, so in a worst case scenario the owner can run it with friends and family. The stock of the store is high value, and brought in by individual courier so the union can’t say it’s not handling cargo consigned to the Royal Shop at the port. The shop’s main customers are tourists so it’s business is unlikely to suffer from a withdrawal of custom from Barbadian customers. That leaves the Union pretty much in the position of having to use the labour relations equivalent of an atom bomb to squash the proverbial cockroach.

However the Union should exercise some care with the idea of a national strike, while Bajans will support the idea of freedom of association in theory and in practice while it costs them nothing, the Union may well find that their support wavers if it suddenly starts becoming personally inconvenient to the average man in the street.

A national strike is in no one’s best interest, we on the margin would urge both sides to return to the bargaining table and let cool heads prevail.



  1. I Disagree Marginal. The union is being too soft on this company.

    I say call a general strike. But over the next 72 hours I would do the following,

    Stop all handling of goods for Royal Shop coming through the ports.

    Stop all telephone connections to the royal Shop

    Stop water distribution to the Royal Shop

    Stop electricity supply to Royal Shop

    Physically block the entrences to the Royal Shop.

    The members of the unions in the above mentioned companies could easily carry out these orders. And bring Royal Shop to its knees.

    This can also apply to Sandy Lane Hotel.

    But in addition I would call for non processing of all visitors to Sandy Lane Hotel coming through the ports.

    Comment by Anonymous — February 15, 2008 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  2. I would look with contempt on a union that called a general strike to deal with the matter. They dare inflict that sort of cost and inconvenience on the rest of us because they can’t handle a little family store? Sad. I agree with the other measures.. picket, suspend service to the buisness if you feel that is appropriate, but a general strike, gotta be kidding.

    Comment by Confused 888 — February 15, 2008 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  3. Marginal,

    I run a small business (approx. 10 employees) if this general strike comes off next week it will cost me a significant amount of money. I have no part in this BWU/Royal Shop/Sandy Lane, and yet I will suffer a direct economic consequence of what is a Union action! In theory the Union must carry some civil liability for this cost, but in reality there is no way that I can recover this cost.

    Why should I (along with everyone else) be penalised for one company’s perceived intransigence? The threat of a general strike is irresponsible and shows why we need to have an industrial court in this country.

    Small Business Owner

    Comment by Small Business Owner — February 15, 2008 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

  4. I have been feeling for a long time now that we as a people want a free ride. Former P.M Arthur was right when he said that we all want to go to heaven but no one wants to die.
    Without knowing all the facts I do not support any general strike. I maintain that unions are for people who like to give trouble or people trouble is attracted to.
    From where I sit, I see unions giving support to the poor work ethic which exists in the country. I do not belong to a union. Dropped out years ago. While I believe everyone should be treated with respect and dignity, I also believe in procedure.
    I figure that the right thing to do is to contact the union before taking action, not afterwards. Yet, it seems that every time I hear of a strike, the people just seem to do it as a reflex action.
    Now Trotman wants to flex his muscles.
    I do not see how on earth those persons can work comfortably in those companies if they are rehired. If I ran the companies I would hire them back but let them go at the first opportunity.
    I like to believe that there are rights for everyone, not just the worker.
    Still, this action cannot be taken in isolation. Barbados is going down a funny road from which I am almost positive that there will be no return. It seems there is a certain amount of lawlessness in the society and we are being pressured by that aas well whethter we know it or not. Well, que sera, sera.

    Comment by Sam Gamgee — February 15, 2008 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

  5. We all know that the Royal Sop owners are members of the BLP and will do everything to embarass the new Government.

    Comment by Anonymous — February 17, 2008 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  6. If this National Strike fail & the Unio decide to take the case to court and if the court say The Royal Shop fire the people without cause Royal Shop will have to pay Severance. The Company already offered severance. This cannot be about those workers any more. This is about Trotman ego trying to frighten a new government and take suspicion off his face for not really being for the people. Watch it, EVERY year at the start he does do something like this. This year, Royal SHop, next year, Might be YOU!

    Comment by lizard — February 17, 2008 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  7. […] Does Barbados Need An Industrial Court? Filed under: Barbados, Barbados Media, Capitalism, Caribbean, Economy, Foreign Investment, Globalisation, Government, Labour, Offshore, Public Opinion, Sandy Lane, Unions, culture, labor, law, mergers, philosphy, politicians, socialism, tourism — notesfromthemargin @ 10:34 pm I run a small business (approx. 10 employees) if this general strike comes off next week it will cos… […]

    Pingback by Does Barbados Need An Industrial Court? « Notes From The Margin — February 17, 2008 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

  8. So Anonymous….

    They have deliberately engineered a situation where they are enduring vandalism, threats, and loss of business just to embarrass the new DLP government.

    Sounds completely plausible to me 😉

    get real

    Comment by Getting it off my chest.... — February 17, 2008 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  9. Getting it off my chest

    Have you ever heard of the Gulf of Tonkin affair?

    Businesses and Governments do what they think is necessary to get the result that they want.

    The more recent case has been the “mountain of evedence” that Iraq had WMD. we now know the truth. So don’t be so gulliable.

    Comment by Anonymous — February 20, 2008 @ 6:46 am | Reply

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