With industrial action averted at the Transport Board following more than two hours of talks under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart last night, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) has now turned its attention to two other statutory boards with respect to the layoffs issue.
Yesterday afternoon, representatives of the BWU met with management of the National Conservation Commission over its pending retrenchments, and those discussions, said the assistant general secretary of the union, Orlando “Gabby” Scott, are ongoing.
“That meeting was cordial,” added Scott.
No date has been set for the next meeting.
The BWU will also be entering talks for the first time with the National Housing Corporation on Thursday afternoon to discuss the layoff process.
General secretary Sir Roy Trotman had described as uncouth and dastardly, the NHC’s sending home of 300 workers in January, without first adhering to the agreed industrial relations procedures.
Although the corporation has already sent home workers, the union still requested a meeting with the statutory body to dialogue on the issue of proper procedures.
The BWU had given the NHC a deadline to respond to its written request for a meeting, which it honoured.
”At least we are pleased to state publicly that the NHC has agreed, though belatedly, to meet,” Sir Roy declared.
”In the cases of the NCC and the Transport Board, the Barbados Workers’ Union had 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 Barbados Workers Union would be forced, though with reluctance, to raise our own swords, in defence of our membership,” warned the veteran union leader late last week during a Press conference.
Although he has accepted that Government was retrenching 3,000 workers in the public sector to address its deficit, the union boss has made it clear that the Government must stick to the 1991 process where it has agreed that both breadwinners in a single household should not be retrenched and that volunteers for separation be entertained.
The BWU is also insisting that Gsovernment meet with unions to examine ways of enhancing separation packages and to make layoffs more palatable.
As stated by Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler late last year in the House of Assembly, all 3,000 public workers are to be gone by the end of this month.
Government is seeking to close a current account deficit of $1.1 billion.