Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has been keeping track of the ongoing impasse between the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the Barbados Water Authority (BWU), which triggered strike action last week by over 500 unionised workers.
Speaking to reporters last evening, the Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer Suckoo revealed that she had been updating both Prime Minister Stuart and Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick, under whose ministry the BWA falls, on the status of the talks, which she said were progressing in the right direction.
“All parties have agreed that, yes, we have begun something good so we should get back to the table soon . . . . The matters before us are important and not beyond our capability. We can actually come back to the table and address the matters . . . but they are urgent so that is why we will come
back to the table as early as tomorrow,” the Minister said as she emerged from a lengthy session between the BWU and the BWA held at the offices of the Ministry of Labour in Warrens, St. Michael.
Yesterday, Byer-Suckoo, in what was considered a last-ditched effort at staving off heightened industrial action by the Union, called both parties to the table for talks yesterday at 4 p.m. Those talks were suspended after 9 p.m. and resumed at 10:30 this morning, with both sides agreeing to a suspension of strike action by the workers pending the outcome of the deliberations.
Giving further details, the Minister said “the talks have been . . . I don’t want to say cordial, but there has been no outbursts, but there seems to be a commitment on all sides and really what we need to do is to be able to talk. Talk through some of the matters that affect the Water Authority.”
Meantime, general secretary of the BWU, Sir Roy Trotman, revealed that though
the talks tomorrow would be starting at a point they had hoped to have passed, he was satisfied that progress was being made towards having vexxing issues resolved.
“Today we were given an indication that the Water Authority was in the process of preparing the documents, which it is to come to us to look at in the matter of increments.
“They made the case out that they would need a little more time and the Minister has undertaken to go through that document and to have consultation with her colleagues so that shortly we will be in a position to have a document for discussion.
“We [also] dealt with the matter of recognition for those persons in the supervisory and management areas whom the BWA had [denied] their right to be union members. We have received a letter, [but it is] not written at the level that we would expect and a correcting letter will follow very shortly. But the matter of
recognition has been resolved and hence the question of rights has been dealt with in a matter that had previously been denied,” the Union boss explained.
He noted that discussions also centered on the matter relationships and determining what was required in terms of respect, another area of importance for the union.
“Respect for persons as individuals, what is it that would make the worker able to work with the management and the management able to recognize that he or she has to treat the worker as a person first. What is going to make for decent work relationships at BWA because the matter of respect and building respect and putting the objectives of the Barbados Water Authority and the people of Barbados at the forefront of the agenda, for all the parties, until that happens there is not going to be any decency in relationships at the BWA,” Sir Roy warned. [email protected]