2 – Repeated violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliate in Barbados is the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU).

Barbados ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) in 1967 and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949) in 1967.

In practice

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First Citizens Bank workers on strike over non-respect of the collective agreement09-08-2018

Operations at First Citizens Bank ground to a virtual halt on 8 August, as approximately 75 per cent of workers walked off the job, and gathered instead at the headquarters of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) for closed-door talks.
At issue, according to BWU Assistant General Secretary Dwaine Paul, was the bank’s failure to honour a 2016 wage profit-sharing agreement.
The bank management, which had been in negotiation with the union on a collective agreement for the period 2013 to 2018, sought to withdraw from one of the major components of that negotiation.
Following six hours of talks on 9 August between senior officials of the bank and the BWU, BWU General Secretary Dwaine Paul revealed the two sides had reached an agreement in principle on the contentious issue.

Cost-U-Less restrains trade union action15-08-2017

In August 2017, Cost-U-Less called the police after a trade union representative questioned the retail company’s corporate policies, which contradicted the agreements negotiated with the trade union. The company accused the trade unionist of threatening the representatives of the company with his remarks. The general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Toni Moore, said that the company had used other union busting tactics throughout 2017, such as dismissing employees for joining the union, adding that the climate of intimidation was obstructing trade union activity.

Union busting by government of Barbados 05-04-2017

On 5 April 2017, during the March of Respect, the general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union denounced the efforts being made to destroy one of its affiliated organisations and to undermine the trade union movement as a whole. The National Union of Public Workers was holding internal elections that day, and a number of government officials had accused the union leaders of holding the elections to serve the interests of the opposition Barbados Labour Party and of serving political interests rather than the genuine interests of the workers.

Precarious employment hampers unionisation and negotiation in domestic work sector31-12-2011

Domestic work in Barbados is precarious, with very low wages that do not correspond to the minimum wage and very limited if any access to social security, as well as unprotected labour rights and conditions. This situation hinders any exercise of the right to organise and collective bargaining. Even where unions are present, collective bargaining remains virtually impossible owing to the legislative constraints in place.

Anti-union discrimination31-12-2011

There are no laws prohibiting anti-union discrimination, which facilitates anti-union practices. As a result, workers dismissed for union activities are rarely able to secure reinstatement and only receive compensation if they obtain a court ruling in their favour. According to the BWU (Barbados Workers’ Union), a law should be passed to make it a punishable offence for employers to deny the right to associate freely.

Government neither supports nor guarantees collective bargaining31-12-2011

Given the absence of any legal requirements, collective bargaining is only practised where there is good will between the parties or a tradition of such negotiations. The national legislation only permits the representation of employees in collective bargaining if over 50% of the staff is unionised. Despite recognising unions, employers often refuse to negotiate collective agreements with them.

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