Last minute management decisions to meet with the Barbados Workers Union over their processes of layoffs – have averted possible industrial action at three statutory bodies.
General secretary of the Barbados Workers Union, Sir Roy Trotman, told a news conference at the union’s Harmony Hall, St Michael headquarters this afternoon, that one of them – the Transport Board – was meeting soon afterwards with the BWU, after it had also been warned to get its act together. The BWU will be meeting separately next week with the NCC and NHC.
Sir Roy said the main grouse his union had was that the National Conservation Commission, the Transport Board and the National Housing Corporation, appeared to have been moving away from the Government’s agreed process, where both persons within a household would not be sent home and also to accept volunteers for separation, and to consult with the unions on the level of payouts.
“The Government agreed to follow the process the country used in 1991 to ready, where we could, the country to protect each household from complete despair. The Government agreed as well, to entertain volunteers for separation and to examine with the relevant unions, ways to enhance separation packages and to make layoffs more palatable,” the BWU boss recalled.
“The BWU has reason to warn the Government that the union considers that both at the NCC and at the Transport Board, the Government’s apparent efforts to stray away from the agreed process, will lead to union retaliation,” asserted the veteran trade union leader.
“In the cases of the NCC and the Transport Board, the BWU has been given cause to feel threatened, where the directorate of both organisations have had to be told that if an industrial battle is what those institutions want, the BWU will be forced, though with reluctance, to raise our own swords of defence of our membership,” cautioned Sir Roy.
“At least,” he continued, “we are pleased to state publicly, that the NHC has agreed, though belatedly, to meet.”
He noted that the deadlines the union had given to the NCC and NHC to respond to its concerns and hold talks, had been met.
However, he pointed out that a deadline had not been given to the Transport Board, which was meeting again with the BWU this afternoon, following earlier discussions on separation packages.
Sir Roy informed reporters that during that earlier meeting, the board said it did not have any money to pay, when the union insisted they should act on principle and be true to themselves, if they were to be true to others.
“My clear understanding is that the Government in making its plans, had sought to find funding to allow for the many proposals which were put forward, not just by the Barbados Workers Union, but even before we had been given the honour to meeting the minister, by other unions who were invited to meet him before we were given that opportunity,” declared the union general secretary.
He suggested there was therefore always an understanding that adequate funding would be available to pay separation money.
“And all that we are trying to do is to arrange properly, so that people who would be better serving the overall plan, could go like those people who are on the edge of retirement, those who have sickness challenges and allow us to be able to continue whatever productive activity there will be with persons who are better able to be efficient and ready to give of their best service,” asserted Sir Roy.