Report from National Convention – Building a Better World from Canada to Trinidad and Tobago
After thanking delegates for inviting him to the convention, BIGWU President Trevor Johnson assured COPE-SEPB delegates that Gwenne Farrell, Simon Berlin and Region 4 Vice President David Black – the representatives most involved with global union work – represents the union very well.
Johnson spoke to delegates about his union, and his context. As Trinidad and Tobago’s total population is about 1.6 million people, his union’s membership of 6,000 is relatively big. “A large union would be considered 10,000 plus, and we’re on our way,” he said of their organizing efforts. BIGWU represents nearly all his country’s banks, and several credit unions. The 40 year old union also has members in the media, the energy sector and supermarkets.
About five years ago, BIGWU organized the workers at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in Trinidad and Tobago. They already had members at CIBC and Scotiabank. “RBC, this so-called good corporate citizen, put up every possible barrier to prevent unionization,” said Johnson. RBC tried a number of tricks, even denying the workers were their employees until BIGWU produced paystubs and timesheets.
Johnson and BIGWU decided to bring the fight to RBC. With the support of UNI Global Union they will be planning a protest in Canada in the coming months. Without a doubt, COPE SEPB members will be there in support and solidarity.