After six days of intense and sometimes charged negotiations under the chairmanship of Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, the crippling Portvale Sugar Factory strike is over.
Agreement in the dispute that caused an eight-day work stoppage was finally reached just before 1 am this Good Friday.
At 12.56 am, Minister Suckoo announced in a joint statement which was also signed by General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union Sir Roy Trotman and General Manager of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Leslie Parris, that the parties agreed to immediately resume sugar production.
“After indepth discussions, the minister is satisfied that there have been misunderstandings in the redundancy consultation process. The parties agreed to seek solutions to those unresolved issues. The parties further commit to completing those discussions by April 30, 2014,” said the joint communique.
The BWU and BAMC also agreed that, in the case of any redundancy situation, all appropriate and applicable methods, including consultation, would be utilized in dealing with those people impacted and their unions.
“The parties further agree that the full consultative process will . . . be used to determine how the best and most efficient use may be made of the labour component,” continued the accord.
The two sides said, too, that they remained committed to upholding all of this country’s labour laws.
“The parties further commit to observe the established norms and procedures founded in the Barbados voluntaristic system of labour management relations.”
The minister, in the statement, thanked both sides for their demeanour and civility during the meetings which she chaired and expressed satisfaction that the parties were able to resolve the issue in the national interest.
The BWU had been protesting what it said was the BAMC’s disrespect for the workers when it retrenched 57 employees from Andrews Sugar Factory in the middle of negotiations earlier this month. It was also requesting enhanced severance packages for those workers made redundant.