Intervention by Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo has averted industrial action at the Government-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.
The announcement was made this afternoon by General-Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union, Sir Roy Trotman at its Solidarity House, Harmony Hall offices during a press conference to discuss activities for the union’s 71st anniversary of existence, the CBC, LIME and the industrial relations climate in general.
Sir Roy told reporters the union had recently threatened to take the action against the corporation because, as he put it, the station had discontinued the payment of increments to staff.
The BWU boss noted that the corporation was only supposed to stop such increments, if it was going to implement a job performance appraisal system.
“And it was understood, that where that performance appraisal system was not put in place, then the increments would continue.
CBC had not put the increments in place, and had not put the performance appraisal system in place and had not paid the increments. We therefore have had some rather very serious discussions and in those discussions we made plans regarding what we would do to vindicate the cause of the workers at that corporation,” Sir Roy noted.
However, he disclosed that, with the assistance of the Minister of Labour, CBC’s management had agreed to pay the increments coming out of a meeting on Saturday. Sir Roy said the corporation has also agreed to submit that performance appraisal, which he expected to receive before the end of this year.
“The increments would be paid and we also would have to be having some discussion shortly regarding the retrocactive payment that is involved,” added the union leader.
Sir Roy also disclosed that the BWU would begin a series of discussions in the coming weeks with LIME to try to resolve a number of outstanding issues coming out of the collective agreement which was reached earlier this year with that telecommunications company. He said those issues involved the proposed laying off of 97 workers, including the closure of the outlets in the island and a job evaluation programme.
The union chief said ever since LIME submitted to the social partnership on September 21 its proposal to cut staff, there had been no further formal talks with the BWU.
However, he explained that the union had some discussions with the managing director earlier this week; and over the next week or two, he would be having a series of meetings with the company and reporting the results to the Chairman of the Social Partnership Sub-Committee, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo.
Sir Roy pointed out that while the union accepted it may be necessary for LIME to lay off some of its staff to remain competitive, he needed to ensure whatever actions it took in this regard, were reasonable and responsible. He insisted that the telecoms firm had a social responsibility to maintain jobs as far as possible and that the union’s objective was to protect the country as a whole.
He also continued to advocate the need for employers to open up the ownership share of their companies to their workers, since they were the ones who were contributing to the bottom line in a major way. Sir Roy was also looking forward to workers receiving a greater pay day, once the island re-emerged from the current economic downturn. (EJ)