Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is putting a team of lawyers together to address the concerns raised by the 40 Transport Board workers who turned up at her office yesterday. However, she has advised the workers to meet with their bargaining agent since she would not get involved in that area at this time.
Giving the background to the workers’ visit yesterday, the Opposition Leader said: “About 40 workers turned up at my office yesterday afternoon, but a lot of information would have to be presented on their individual cases. There is an issue of fairness.
“The majority of the 40 workers who came have been employed for longer than ten years; only two were not. Some of them were appointed. It seems a number of workers who came in since 2008 and 2009 have remained on the job in breach of the last in, first out principle,” she said.
“Secondly, in relation to the other criteria, they told us in all instances they received green slips which had as reason for retrenchment –– a downturn in business. You cannot say it is a downturn in business, but you are using criteria of poor attendance and poor performance, because at the very least you expect they will be heard in their individual cases,” Mottley added.
The severed workers had descended on Mottley’s office around 3:30 p.m. yesterday to voice their concerns over the manner of their retrenchment and to seek her office’s advice on the way forward.
Several of them complained that the traditional practice of the last in first out was never employed in the retrenchment exercise, and reiterated their concern that several workers –– some with as many as 15 years’ service were severed, while others with less than five years service were retained.
The St Michael North-East MP said today they were very concerned too because of these reports workers were being reinstated in some circumstances where others remained laid off.
Voicing concerns that workers were being laid off at a time when parties were still negotiating, Mottley said: “Given that Sir Roy Trotman had said that discussions with Government will be continued, we were surprised, because in industrial relations, as we know it, you will freeze the status quo pending the conclusion of the negotiations.”
The leader warned that the Opposition would not sit idly back, while issues of unfairness or political victimization appeared to be the workers’ concerns.
She emphasized that her party could not advise anyone individually unless it was in possession of the individual facts and circumstances.