The unions representing over 200 retrenched workers at the National Conservation Commission (NCC) tonight agreed with management of the statutory board to review the contentious layoff list, with hope of an end to their dispute by next week.
Acting Minister of Labour Senator Maxine McClean told reporters tonight, after eight hours of talks at her ministry that the sides will meet on Monday with the intention of settling their impasse.
The list of workers from which the retrenched employees were selected has been one of the main issues separating the unions and NCC management up to this point, with the unions accusing the commission of “cherry-picking” people.
“The intention is that there is full understanding by the unions, as to the basis on which those persons would have been terminated,” the minister said.
“There was a concern expressed . . . that there were two issues which would have been the basis of the dispute. One had to do with the interpretation of the civil service circular in relation to the policy and the second one had to do with concerns about the nature and extent, or level of consultation.
“Given concerns about the level of consultations, the NCC has agreed to sit with the unions to go through those lists, to clearly have people understand why persons were terminated,” she explained.
The minister noted that there had been early agreement on the last-in first-out policy and that it should not be applied carte blanche.
She said after the technical team of labour and ministry representatives has finalised the review of the list, the officials would meet with the minister of labour to thrash out any lingering concerns.
The aim, Senator McClean said, is to have the matter settled next week.
“It is not a matter that we want to have drawn out,” she asserted.
Saying that today’s talks were cordial, general secretary of the NUPW, Dennis Clarke, said the objective of the meeting with NCC on Monday is to try to reach a speedy settlement.
Assistant General Secretary of the BWU, Dwaine Paul echoed Clarke’s expectations.
“We are hopeful, as was previously indicated, that a resolution comes as fast as possible in the best interest of the workers. That is what we’re working on,” Paul said.
“We are committed to working through the process to bring a result as soon as possible.”
NCC general manager Keith Neblett also expressed hope of an accord next week.
He also reported that the discussions were cordial.