It was a wait-and-see state of affairs late tonight as Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo continued her effort to bring a settlement to the eight-day strike by Portvale Sugar Factory workers.
Up to 10 p.m., management of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company was in one meeting with Byer-Suckoo, while the team from the Barbados Workers’ Union waited in another room for the BAMC to decide on the contents of a document, which should form the final agreement.
BWU general secretary Sir Roy Trotman had told reporters up to that point he was happy with the contents and was waiting on the management to sign off. He said the language of that document, which had been discussed in several back-and-forth sessions, was tantamount to the apology the union had been demanding from the company for the manner in which 57 Andrews Sugar Factory workers were made redundant earlier this month.
The union was also requesting enhanced severance payments packages for those retrenched employees.
The BAMC’s negotiating team included former Chief Labour Officer Mitch Codrington and former Minister of Labour Arnie Walters.
Just yesterday, Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick warned that Barbados was on the verge of losing the entire sugar crop if the dispute was not settled soon. He also expressed concern that the apology the union was demanding was a basis for calling a strike which he said had shut down the sugar industry and put the economy in further jeopardy.
However, earlier today, Sir Roy said the “refusal” by management to apologize made him sick.
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