Government’s treatment of Barbados’ sugar factory workers is unacceptable and insensitive.
Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Gline Clarke, complained today that a time when there was a “sense of dread pervading Barbados”, more than 100 Andrews Factory, St. Joseph employes had been terminated, while their colleagues at Portvale, St. James would be “on pause” for six weeks.
Saying this was further indication of a breakdown in Barbados, the BLP spokesman said: “It is our understanding that workers went on vacation for the customary one week at the end of the crop on June 14 and were caught totally by surprise by the decision to lay them off until August 12, 2013.
“We deem this action to be insensitive. It is our understanding that these workers would then be employed until the beginning of December 2013 when the majority would go on the other three weeks’ leave.
“This action at this time has added to the sense of dread pervading Barbados. To put more people on the breadline in these circumstances where the options for alternative employment are nil to none will work a severe harsdship on these families.
“We have heard that the Barbados Workers’ Union will be meeting this weekend in an urgent meeting with the workers and we will await the outcome of that meeting,” the St. George North MP added.
Clarke said the action had clearly taken workers and their representatives by surprise and that by its own admission in a letter dated June 14, 2013, the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Limited indicated it was now consulting with the chief labour officer and other trade unions and the Barbados Employers Confederation on the matter “after deciding to lay off factory employees from June 25 2013 until August 12, 2013”.
“It is significant that it is after the fact, in the said letter it is urging the Sugar Industries Staff Association to ‘convene a series of consultation meetings to get acceptable solutions to the BAMC’s action’,” Clarke said. This week BAMC General Manager Leslie Parris told Barbados TODAY “a decision was taken to close Andrews to prepare for the new multi-purpose factory to open in 2016”.
“The workers were notified through their two representative bodies, the Barbados Workers Union and the Sugar Industry Supervisors Association,” he said. (SC)