The staff at the government-owned and operated Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service (ABS) is at it again! For the second time in as many months, they are on the picket line demanding a management shake-up, better working conditions and overtime pay. And those who took industrial action in December are outraged at a letter indicating that they will not be paid for the days on which they walked the picket line. Good grief! Where is the International Labour Organisation when we need it? Where is Papa VC, he who championed the right of workers to picket and strike for a redress of grievances? Hopefully, this disturbing matter can be settled quickly.
Of course, the minister in charge of information, the good Melford Nicholas, had made promises to address and settle the vexing issues as a matter of urgency. Sadly, it appears that the good minister of information is not a man of his word! Seems, instead of playing a leadership role on the substantive matters, he chose to deflect them to others. His promises are hot air and a pollution of the environment! The Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment ought to intervene quickly and demand of the good minister that he “cease and desist!”
Of course, the good minister is hardly alone in this regard. Making and breaking promises are par for the course with this administration. Heck, it is the coin of the realm! Consider these variations of government jive talk: “A full accounting will be released blah, blah, blah” “My good man, we will do such-and-such soonest, we are just waiting on blah, blah, blah!” “We have already put all the nuts and bolts in place blah, blah, blah . . .” “We will complete the project by the thirty-second of Nevuary!” And so it goes! Vain and empty promises; sweet-sounding-nothings designed to placate the people! Sparrow, and many Trinidadians, call it “Mamagism!” Others refer to it as “Ole talk and ignorance!” Still others refer to this foolery as “Bovine scatology or bs.”(Methane [a by-product of cow dung] pollutes the environment and contributes to global warming)
The sad thing is that we allow those who traffic in disingenuous chatter to get away with it. We allow them to persist in their bad habit of blowing smoke up our . . . well . . . you get the idea. We accept the cold comfort of idle promises when we ought to be rejecting them outright. Don’t promise anything, especially if it is unrealistic feel-good pablum. Consider King Short Shirt’s take on bs: “Is long time you promising / You tell me you love me still / You tell me to wait; ah siddong by yuh mooma gate / Gyal, you mek me siddong whole day! / For you alone, I’d be sitting still / (Chorus) No promise me, gimme om right away / No promise me, don’t care what you going to say / No, no, no, no no! No promise nutten / No, no, no, no, no! When you know nutten go happen!” Help us Lord!
Meanwhile, the ABS workers will be walking the picket line, giving voice (inadvertently) to the outrage and frustration that mirrors the rest of Antigua and Barbuda. And their smiley faces on national television, and the giggly happy-talk (government propaganda and self-promotion) on radio mask the intolerable working environment at an establishment where worker satisfaction and happiness should be paramount. The sad irony is not lost on many of us.
ABS is a true reflection of Antigua and Barbuda; a microcosm of the affairs of state. Just wish they could talk about it on their radio and television broadcasts!