The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is tired of waiting for the Employment Rights Tribunal to begin hearing the case of retrenched National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers and it is serving notice that it will set a “deadline” for work to begin.
However, General Secretary Dennis Clarke said the union would keep that date close to its chest, as well as what action it would take if the time passed with no action.
“We at the union believe that they [the tribunal members] have all of the information long enough that they can get started. We are giving it consideration, but I will not say what we will do. I guess in the fullness of time you will hear how we plan to approach the situation,” he told a press conference held today at the union’s headquarters on Dalkeith Road, St Michael.
However, Clarke was more vocal about the NUPW’s frustration.
“Certainly we cannot be happy with the process because we were promised a speedy resolution of the impasse,” he said.
“We accepted that idea in good faith [but] it is a situation where the Employment Rights Tribunal started before it was ready. They took information from the NUPW a couple months ago and we gave them the evidence which they were supposed to send to the NCC. The NCC is supposed to get back to the tribunal, but we are not hearing anything.”
Dismissing as “a red herring”, the claim that the lack of infrastructure was one of the reasons behind the delay, the union boss said if the tribunal really was ready to start work, several locations were available for it to sit.
“The National Insurance has rooms that can be used for the meetings of the tribunal. I am sure that if they wanted to use the NUPW headquarters they can use the space. I am sure if they wanted to use space at the Barbados Workers’ Union they could have used it. So I do not support or accept any excuse on the whole question of the infrastructure,” he insisted.
“I think they started before they were ready. They should have said they were not ready and call on the NCC to comply with the Cabinet’s decision of last in, first out,” the veteran trade unionist added, referring to the policy the NUPW was insisting on after it was discovered that employees with more than a decade of service were sent home while others with a shorter history at the commission kept their jobs.