The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) tonight announced a pause on escalating the six-day strike by Portvale Sugar Factory workers.
Speaking to reporters at the end of nearly eight hours of separate talks involving the Barbados Agricultural Management Company, chaired by Minister of Labour, Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, BWU General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman said he would respect the efforts of the minister to resolve the dispute, before possible extension of the industrial action to other sectors.
The Labour Minister is hoping for a settlement of the impasse by the end of a final round of negotiations tomorrow. And according to the union boss, if a resolution is not reached by then, an escalation in the strike would then be back on the table.
Sir Roy told reporters that the apology the BWU is demanding from the BAMC over the manner in which it laid off 57 workers from Andrews Sugar Factory just over a week ago, remained high on its agenda now, and would be so for all other employers who “disrespected” the consultative process.
The union is also demanding enhanced severance packages for the retrenched workers.
Both Sir Roy and Dr. Byer-Suckoo believed progress had been made in the talks, but the minister noted that a number of challenges had to be overcome first, before a resolution could be reached.
Without going into details, she said tonight that the issue of the apology must be thoroughly clarified before a determination was made, one way or the other.
“If there is an apology, then what…and if there is no apology, what?” Byer-Suckoo asked.
She also expressed concern about the state of the sugar canes already reaped and waiting to be processed, those still in the fields to be harvested and the losses being incurred to the workers across the industry while the strike continued.
Asked about the fact that the union would be blamed for the deterioration of the crop and its losses, the BWU boss replied that whenever a low-income worker took action to protect their rights, they were blamed, while other professionals who stayed away from their job, were seldom criticized.