Our Prime Minister, the Honourable Gaston Browne, waxed malevolent against them. He belittled their claims and opined that if they continued with their . . . well . . . obduracy, he would make sure that they get no-seed! He was referring to a small group of Bajan LIAT pilots who recently filed suit against the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. They are challenging the constitutionality of a last year’s amendment to the Companies Act which prohibits anyone from suing the government over any claims against LIAT. According to Captain Cave, on behalf of nine other pilots, the motion arose from a matter on May 27, 2015, when the ten pilots instituted a claim against their employer seeking certain declarations and orders regarding pension monies deposited into a CLICO fund without the authority of the pilot’s union and “in clear breach” of the existing collective and other agreements.
Of course, as is his wont, the good PM spat his words with undisguised disdain. Indeed, BARBADOS TODAY quoted him as calling the Bajan pilots, “’rotten elements’ responsible for the demise of the carrier.” They also posted a photo of our commander in chief in his full red army outfit, complete with red beret and other military paraphernalia. We are not sure if they were mocking him.
To be sure, his utterances were fightin’ words – quite a broadside, and the people of Barbados seemed in no mood to abide his invective, responding in aces and spades on traditional and social media. One sharer dismissively asked, “What is he smoking?” Another suggested, “This clearly has nothing to do with the pilots!!!His statement is directed at the PM of Barbados. Come on people! Barrow didn’t give us free education for nothing!” Still another shared resignedly, “Every time that I think that this guy can’t spew anymore foolishness, he does. Going after your legitimately earned wages that you haven’t been paid is ‘rotten?’ I hope any pilots thinking of working for the new LIAT take note.”
And there was more. A lady pointedly noted, “A very irresponsible statement. Hopefully, they will respond in an equally responsible and legal manner.” A man weighed in with, “Very unfortunate for a Prime Minister to take that kind of tone and speak about the pilots in that manner They have a right to pursue all channels to get what is rightfully due to them. It is disgusting that this matter is being drawn out in this way. I hope that they can also claim for damages with that reckless statement. . . . They should test the waters to see how his pockets stand.” And yes, the hits kept on coming. Said one young woman, “Will never be able to understand the lack of diplomacy of some leaders. Why is this man allowed to speak? Each time that he does, he puts his foot in his mouth. What a shame! What a pity!” Ouch!
And still there was more. These Bajans are not easy. Said one gentleman, “I blame the rest of the shareholder governments . . . . Why is it always when you’re fighting for your rights, you always seem to be the villain in the story? Continue to fight for your rights, my Bajan comrades. The Honourable PM can go stick his opinion where the sun don’t shine!” Good grief! And so it went. A rapid descent into a mudfest, as the Bajans pulled no punches. Remember, what we have written here are the kinder comments, and we will not join with the Bajans in maligning our leader. We believe that his cause, re LIAT, is just. The effort to save the embattled carrier is an admirable and worthy one, and tough decisions will have to be made.
The unfortunate thing is that . . . perhaps the way that some of our leaders go about matters is . . . well . . . abrasive and off-putting. Moreover, we cannot shake the sense that some of these leaders in the Caribbean really do not seem to like each other. Certainly not in the way that the post-colonial leaders of the seventies, eighties and nineties seemed to band together in the name of Caribbean unity and the common good. We could be wrong, but we’re willing to bet that there is no love lost between this current crop of leaders. And it is quite sad. The people of the region will suffer.
Our good PM is often fond of saying, “Attitude determines altitude!” Hmmmmm! Those words are instructive; may we pay the more earnest heed!
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