Stop the political interference!
That’s what the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) is demanding from the Freundel Stuart administration in the hiring and firing practices, particularly at statutory corporations. BWU assistant general secretary Dwaine Paul declared this afternoon that the political administrators must draw the line between their involvement in entities under their watch and allow the management to manage.
Speaking at the end of a meeting at Solidarity House to update retrenched staff of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) on efforts to have their dispute resolved, Paul described the employment practices of state-run boards as a mess.
In fact, he claimed that in many cases, applications did not exist for several workers employed by statutory boards.
“The employment practices of statutory boards need to be cleaned up and looked at because it should not take you 14 years to be appointed or confirmed in your job,” Paul stated.
Asked if the BWU would pursue the matter where most of the workers on the list to be retrenched, but were retained, are from minister responsible for the NCC, Denis Lowe’s constitutency, the union executive replied: “The Barbados Workers’ Union has not, and does not have any interest in pursuing this matter on any political lines.
“Workers are the victims here, regardless of which constituency they come from; because if you take up workers and you put in workers, at the end of the day, they are all workers. Everybody that came to NCC, came to NCC looking for a means to support themselves, or their families, regardless of which section of Barbados they came from,” he asserted.
“The mismanagement of this process,” Paul argued, “has resulted in injuries to a number of workers. At the end of the day, the sad thing about this is that workers will still be displaced, and regardless of which side of the political fence you are on, we need to focus on finding ways to restoring the employment levels of Barbados to what they previously were.”
He felt that that was the only thing which could vindicate the workers and bring satisfaction to all. The BWU official stated the union would not be looking at any constituency, only at the process and what was done within that process.
“This matter of statutory boards was also brought up yesterday with the Prime Minister . . . . It was also put . . . by the Minister of Labour that a number of problems which are being referred to the Labour Department are resulting from poor processes or errors being made in statutory corporations.
“We are planning . . . to utilize this process to continue to fight to get the relevent changes made to how things happen in statutory corporations,” the trade unionist stated. He suggested that there were some people who were aware of certain problems developing and rather than raise them immediately, waited until they got out of hand, thus placing additional burdens on resolving them.
“We need to focus on labour and make sure that as labour, we are doing what we are supposed to do; because some people know things and we don’t know them. Our shop stewards work there and sometimes they don’t know things that happen there neither. You know how we get information a lot of times? Something has to go terribly wrong . . . .”
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley also addressed the issue of political interference in the NCC impasse. Mottley argued that the crux of the retrenchment dispute was the conduct of minister Lowe “in this unsavoury affair”.
“It was Mr Lowe who stated publicly that he had the list of persons to be sent home for review.
“He was the one who placed himself at the centre of the process and in a position to usurp the functions of the board and management of the NCC,” she declared.
“The unions started the political process by involving the Minister of Labour and now the Prime Minister. They have abandoned that process, shifted gears and reverted to the legal process –– all to the emotional and financial detriment of the workers,” pointed out the Opposition Leader.
Mottley said Lowe must be fired for presiding over the “disgraceful” behaviour of the NCC and the board, removed, for its “complicit role in this nasty affair”.