It could be a case of business houses charging Government agencies one price for a service or goods and another for the same good or service
to a private customer.
This was one of the claims being made by several United Commercial Autoworks Limited workers as they entered their second day of protest over the non-payment of wages and salaries.
The workers’ claims followed that of parliamentary representative for St Lucy Denis Kellman, who in the recently concluded 2014-2015 Estimates Debate in the House of Assembly had charged that some business houses were charging Government ministries, departments and statutory boards higher prices even though they were buying larger quantities of goods.
Citing a case, the outspoken parliamentarian charged that in some cases while Government agencies were being asked to pay $7 for a bottle of bleach even though they were buying larger quantities, the same product was priced at $6 for a private customer.
And yesterday, while speaking in the Senate on the 2014-2015 Estimates, Independent senator and former chairman of UCAL, Sir Roy Trotman, charged that private garages were being paid $90 an hour for repairs being carried out on Transport Board buses, while UCAL was being paid $75 an hour.
Today, line foreman and director of UCAL, Richard Newton, identified a number of items and services that could be provided by UCAL at a quarter of the price charged by private business houses.
The irate worker who has not received this month’s salary, charged that while UCAL workers sit around in the workshop, Transport Board buses are being sent to private garages for repairs in breach of the agreement entered into between Government and UCAL.
While a team from Barbados TODAY was at the Weymouth headquarters today a worker pointed out a fire where they were attempting to prepare a lunchtime meal of roasted breadfruits and butter.
The worker said: “Take a picture of the fire where we are preparing roast breadfruit and butter so that Barbadians can see our plight. I do not have any money to take home for my family and that goes for other UCAL workers. Our financial position is so bad that when we work on weekends we have to leave our cars at Weymouth because we do not have any money to buy gasoline.”
Meanwhile, around 10 a.m. deputy general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Dwayne Paul, arrived at the Weymouth headquarters to convene a meeting with the workers.
Asked to comment on the outcome of the meeting, Newton said: “Very little was achieved at the 30-minute meeting. We are still off the job. Paul told us the union will try to have the wages and salaries paid. However, he said we may have to wait until the beginning of the new financial year in April before we get paid. He also said that there was very little he could do about the millions of dollars owed UCAL by the Transport Board.”
Paul, however, could not be reached for a comment on the outcome of today’s meeting.