The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) will not lie down and play dead in the face of a glaring breach of Government’s policy of last in first out, as it relates to the retrenchment of government workers.
In addition, president of the NUPW, Walter Maloney, has called for the resignation of the entire board of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) and has further warned that Government departments and statutory boards are not the fiefdoms of anyone.
Maloney issued the stern warnings today while speaking to members of the Press at NUPW headquarters on Dalkeith Road, St Michael following the retrenchment of over 200 NCC workers earlier today.
There were angry scenes at the headquarters of the NCC this morning as workers received their retrenchment letters from management.
Several of the affected workers assembled at the entrance to Codrington House after their half-hour meeting with General Manager Keith Neblett and openly voiced their concerns about the handling of the retrenchment exercise.
Most vocal was Shernell Blackman, who came out dressed in an Opposition Barbados Labour Party campaign campaign T-shirt and said she was not interested in retaining her job of over seven years, but wanted to see the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government removed from office.
General worker Maureen Reece, who has been employed at the NCC for the past 13 years, also expressed concern at being placed on the breadline, saying “this is not fair to us that workers that have years in here going home and people with political connections retaining their jobs”.
“If the union does not represent me, I want my money that I pay them,” she said, adding: “I did not accept any letter this morning.”
Reacting to the day’s developments, Maloney said: “This afternoon is a very sad day in the history of industrial relations in this country. We have been informed that the NCC has retrenched over 200 workers this morning and some of those workers would have been working within the corporation over seven years, some over ten and some 15 years.
“It is really ironic that this morning at this union we had a meeting with the Sub committee of the Social Partnership that was addressed by the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and also the Minister of Labour [Dr] Esther Byer Suckoo,” Maloney said.
At that meeting, he noted, the Social partnership was brought up to speed as to the measures contained within the national Budget and how they were progressing.
He said when the union first got news of the impending retrenchments at the NCC, one of the questions that they asked was whether or not the government’s policy of last in first out is still held.
“We were told emphatically by Sinckler that that indeed was the policy of the Government. [However], what we are hearing this afternoon is a completely contrary policy.
“It was brought to our attention that a number of NCC workers with ten and 15 years employment have been laid off whilst persons some with two months, some with one year continued to be employed. That in itself is an untenable position and the NUPW cannot allow this to happen,” Maloney said.
“We were also told that there are a number of persons working within the lifeguards department that have also been laid off. Some of those persons up to last month would have received commendations from the NCC for the work they would have done in saving lives. It is clear, based on what transpired, the NCC is departing from what is happening within the wider service as far as the displacement of persons.
“The NUPW abhors this type of infraction within industrial relations and therefore the NUPW will be challenged to ensure that this does not happen and we will be taking certain measures to ensure it is addressed and those persons who would have been displaced wrongfully maintain their jobs,” Maloney added.
Expressing serious concern over the situation at the NCC, Maloney said: “The NUPW will not allow any Government department or statutory board to become the fiefdom of anyone. Th entire board of the NCC should be asked to resign.”
Meanwhile, during his presentation, general secretary of the NUPW, Dennis Clarke, noted that his greatest fear since the retrenchment programme began had materialized since he had sought consultations with the various departments.
Clarke referred to a Cabinet document which indicated that the retrenchment programme should follow a policy of the last in, first out and ensure that programmes were not affected.
The veteran trade union argued that International Labour Organisation Convention 158 Artcile 13 was breached and warned that he was willing to take the case before the ILO in Geneva.
Clarke further warned that the NUPW will be meeting with all workers on Friday at Codrington House at 7:30 a.m. where a decision would be taken on the course of action the union should pursue.