After two days of work-to-rule action, employees of United Commercial Autoworks Limited (UCAL) were back on the job at 3 p.m. today, following an assurance that representation will be made to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to get some of the $20 million owed to them.
In the longer term, the financial situation will be addressed through a new contract that is to be negotiated.
Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley, who made the promise, also assured that Government had no intention of breaking the relationship between the Board and the worker-owned and operated UCAL.
Speaking to the media after a four-hour meeting with chairman of UCAL, Sir Roy Trotman; deputy chairman, Hilford Murrell; Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) delegates; and directors of UCAL at his ministry, Lashley said: “We have come to an agreement that we will look at short-term measures that will ease the pressure off UCAL and the workers and they have agreed to it.”
“It was agreed that we will seek to determine the future relationship between the two parties by way of a new contract. I will be making representation to Cabinet to have some money released to UCAL and, thereafter, there will be future discussions in relation to other monies owing to and due to UCAL,” Lashley said.
The minister explained that although the contract between UCAL and the Transport Board had expired, the two sides were operating on terms that were beneficial to both institutions.
Sir Roy said there was no move to sever the UCAL-Transport Board ties over the dispute.
“We have been given the very clear commitment that it is the ministry’s intention to promote this product, this significant model of worker ownership and worker democracy. The minister has made it his commitment that, provided we are fully committed to ensuring that the matter becomes a successful enterprise, the Government will continue the relationship,” he said.
Sir Roy said that would be “good news to small business people, especially in this company where the worker is the owner and shareholder of the company”.
“The Government has given that commitment and it has said it remains committed to industrial democracy and worker ownership,” the veteran trade unionist said.
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