BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday August 29, 2017 – A major row is developing between American warehouse club-style store Cost-U-Less and the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) that could cost the retailer.
The BWU has called on its members to boycott the general merchandise store, carrying out a threat it made nearly two weeks ago to name and shame businesses it accused of engaging in union busting practices.
In an address to the union’s 76th annual delegates conference over the weekend, General Secretary Toni Moore named Cost-U-Less as one such business, claiming it “entrapped workers in a form of modern day slavery” under the full glare of Government.
“The struggle must continue against those who wish to entrap workers in a form of modern day slavery. I think of companies like Cost-U-Less that Government has given every concession under the sun to allow them a platform to do business in Barbados, what do they do in return? They undermine our commitment to provide decent work through union busting tactics that see people losing jobs because they have committed the cardinal sin of becoming a union member,” Moore said.
At a news conference earlier this month to announce the annual conference, Moore had warned that the BWU did not intend to take the union busting attempts by local companies, “one most blatant”, lightly. She had also said “one company had called in the police three weeks ago after a union representative had made an attempt at engagement”.
“Such behaviour provokes militancy by the labour movement,” she suggested at the time.
During her address to the annual conference, she named Cost-U-Less as that company, while suggesting that Government was doing nothing to rein it in.
An incensed Moore claimed that the company was so confident of Government’s support, that during the passage of Tropical Storm Harvey almost two weeks ago, it remained open for four hours past the deadline for closure, on the premise that it was facilitating shopping by customers.