General manager of the National Conservation Commission, Keith Neblett, and his team were a no-show and today’s meeting at the Labour Department had to be aborted.
Members of the Press were informed that Neblett had taken ill during the day and was unable to attend today’s meeting, which was chaired by Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo.
However, representatives of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) were in attendance.
Speaking to the Press at the conclusion of their hour-long meeting, which began at 5:45 p.m. and concluded at 6:45 p.m., NUPW president Walter Maloney, said: “As you are all aware, there was a meeting called this evening with the Barbados Workers’ Union, the National Union of Public Workers and the NCC this afternoon for 5 p.m.
“This meeting was to be chaired by the Minister of Labour, along with the Chief Labour officer and his team. The meeting did not come off this afternoon because as was reported by the minister the general manager of the NCC has reported ill and we on all sides wish him well.
However, Maloney indicated that the unions were running out of patience.
“On Tuesday, we spelt out clearly what it was that we needed to do in order to carry this process forward. The NCC was supposed to collate information that we would have agreed on and give it to the minister. With the minister we would have looked at it, and come back here this afternoon and we would have met in plenary to resolve these issues.
“What we got from the minister not too long ago was that the information that was gleaned from the NCC was in fact the same information that they would have given her before. What we would have asked for and agreed upon was not given to the minister,” Maloney said.
“. . . So we came to a meeting this afternoon looking to act in good faith, which we have done from the time these sessions started only to hear that the NCC, who would not have had the decency to call early this afternoon and indicate that they were unable to come to the meeting, were told this afternoon at 5 o’clock when the meeting was about to start that no one from NCC will be attending.
“Clearly that has thrown up a level of disrespect to both unions and we are not going to sit back idly and allow any organisation to disrespect the NUPW,” the NUPW spokesman warned.
He reminded that general secretary of the NUPW, Dennis Clarke, had indicated that the impasse would call for three phases or three courses of action.
“I think that after this afternoon, certainly we are at Phase 3,” Maloney said, adding that “what came out this afternoon will show their intent and we will have to heighten activity on this one”.
“It is not without a doubt that what took place at the NCC was a travesty of justice. What took place at the NCC clearly could not stand up in any court of law; it could not stand up using the criteria spelt out by the Cabinet.
“We cannot allow this injustice to stand and so NUPW has no other option clearly that to demonstrate its awareness, its abhorence to this injustice that was taken out on the backs of the workers at the NCC,” Maloney said.
The president promised that later on this week the union would detail at a Press conference what it meant and give chapter and verse to show that what took place at the NCC was not something
of which this country should be proud.
In a brief statement Byer Suckoo said: “I do not know if I should say talks have broken down because we did not actually have negotiations today. The NCC indicated that they were not able to attend today’s meeting. However, I used the opportunity to meet with the unions. We did not continue negotiations because of the absence of the NCC.”
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the BWU, deputy director of industrial relations, Dwaine Paul, said: “The BWU understands from the Minister of Labour that the chief spokesman for NCC is ill and could not attend the meeting this afternoon. We unfortunately got that information during the day and efforts were made to find out who would be the chief spokesman for the NCC. The minister has committed to investigate the matter and advise in terms of what has transpired.”