Back in 1979 ah made ah casual appearance at de annual General Meeting (AGM) of de Civil Service Association (CSA) now de Public Service Union (PSU).
Out of miss-shift, Chico Ellis and I had secretly put up ah ‘Post’ suggesting dat de Union needed ah new Executive to effect the following (i) Increase the number of Scholarships from one to six for children of Union members; (ii) A Health Benefit of $ 50. 00 to cover one visit to the Doctor or medication; (iii) A $750. 00 Death Benefit for past or present members. (iv) A Fair Day’s Pay for a Fair Day’s Work. Unknown to us de late Bertram Nicholas and George Howard had organized a Coup wid dey own slate ah candidates foh ah new Executive.
When one nominated the other seconded and at de end, foh me it was “put yuh money way yuh mouth dey!” Ah was pen-ah-lies wid de position of President, Ellis Vice-President. Glenroy “Swallow” Browne” Secretary, one Sylvester was Treasurer and de PRO Calvin Nicholls, incidentally he was de only member among us wid experience in Trade Union-is-him and Industrial Relations.
Immediately after the meeting ah paid an univited visit to Ernest Laborde, de Labour Commissioner, but best of all a personal and family friend. He lectured me foh three hours. My main concern was “Strike Act-shun!” He gave me ah list of options e.g. “Work to Rule! Go Slow! Lock-Out! Sick Out!” I asked him to explain to me dis thing called “Sick Out. He gave ah positive nod and said: “Once upon a time, dey was ah serious Labour Dispute between ah Trade Union Leader named Moses who was head of de Hebrew Industrial and Religious Workers Union. De workers were employed by ah company named de Pyramid Engineering Construction Company owned by de Babylonian, Ramses. Workers were dropping dead pon de wuk. Moses sought God’s help. De Lord told Moses. Next weekend dey will be a Sick Out!” Ah interrupted and asked if dey actualy had “Sick Out” in dem times. He nodded again and continued: “ Tell your workers Moses, those who believe in de Blood, to put ah Red Marker pon every house, use de Blood of ah first born male animal, so dat even de Babylonians will easily recognize it. Den every Worker will stay in dey house, shut
de doors behind dem, Rest and Restore dey tired Soul until Deliverance arrives.” Our Hell’t meeting ended!
By Chose-day of de Union’s first week in office, PRO Nicholls called to let me know dat our Airport Control Tower workers were about to Call ah Strike. Dat was serious as ah Strike meant closing down de ET Joshua Airport and Union Island, nobody could come in! Nobody could leave! But de more serious side is, dey did not give any notice to Go-venom-mint of dey intend-shun. We met de youngsters, settled foh ah surprised Sick Out in a couple days. By de next day de PS Moulton Williams called, threatening to have me arrested if we allowed de guys to Strike. When ah asked him: “Even if de workers reported sick?” Immediately he asked de Union to meet with him wid de workers after lunch. De Union did not have to say much, dey presented ah comprehensive list of grievances. Quite frankly our workers were languishing at de Airport. Moulton Williams was ah Super Permanent Secretary. He took ah copy of de Workers Queries and gave de Meeting de assurance dat within one month, most of dey problems will be sorted out. And he honoured his promise.
De success of dat quick settlement was hinged on four main Factors” (i) de Workers performed creditably on de workplace! (ii) dey did not run to no Minister or Prime Minister, (iii) dey trusted dey Union and (iv) most importantly dey stuck To-Get-Her As One. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.