Accusing the National Conservation Commission (NCC) of stalling on the matter, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) today called on the Employment Rights Tribunal to issue a definitive judgment on the contentious issue of layoffs at the statutory corporation.
A frustrated NUPW General Secretary Dennis Clarke has also described the tribunal as a sleeping giant, saying it was allowing the NCC to operate to its own advantage while the hundreds of retrenched workers continued to suffer.
“The tribunal is like a sleeping giant, nothing is happening [and] the workers are suffering more and more as the seconds tick by,” he said, adding that the whole process has been completed from the workers’ side.
“. . . the requirement as set out by the board, and what we would have done is just simply put in a formalised manner, the same points that we argued about the wrongness of the implementation of the layoffs by NCC,” Clarke noted.
However, he said the NCC’s response to the union’s petition was in his view, “keeping back the tribunal from starting and that is why I am saying the tribunal should call upon them . . . to do something now or hand down a judgment and forget about them”.
The union leader said that documented information was supposed to return to the NCC for comment and then be sent to the tribunal.
However, when last he checked at the beginning of this week “it seemed as though they were still sitting down on this stuff and would not send back a response to the tribunal”.
“I believe it’s in the interest of the tribunal to get them moving, because these people are suffering and the NCC board does not understand the sufferation of these people,” Clarke stressed.
He said Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe also seemed to be oblivious to “the sufferation of these people”.
He further lamented that the tribunal too “does not understand the sufferation of these people”.
“That is what I am getting at. How these people out there suffering and one person in this country decides that they gine defy Cabinet and everybody else and do their own thing.
“It’s an immoral situation that these people have been steeped in and nobody seems to want to do anything about it,” Clarke contended.
It was back in May that the NCC matter was referred to the tribunal after Prime Minister Freundel Stuart intervened in the bitter impasse between the NCC and the workers’ representatives, the NUPW and the BWU.
However, with hearings on the matter yet to be scheduled, Clarke has questioned the use of the tribunal, saying “it seems as though NCC board is using the tribunal to their advantage.
“We already locked in [to the process]. Given the fact that the Prime Minister had admitted that there were missteps and he had said the process would be speedy, we expect these things to happen. We expect the tribunal would get working in a hurry,” he said.
“Yes, we know that they had a few hiccups at the start and that is expected of an institution that is new and now starting up, but heck, they gone past that now and therefore they should get rolling and don’t keep these people out there suffering as currently is in these situations,” Clarke stressed.