The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has served notice to the Barbados Community College (BCC) to expect industrial action if it persists with “subtle retrenchment” of workers.
Senior industrial relations officer at the NUPW Wayne Walrond issued the warning this evening after claiming that the BCC management was refusing to renew the contracts of some temporary workers.
While he could not say how many employees have been affected so far, Walrond was adamant that the practice cannot be allowed to continue.
“Where there is a breakdown and there is no cooperation, we are prepared to take whatever action is necessary, including protest action,” Waldron stated.
“We’re saying if this thing is not arrested, it means that it would get to the stage where any number of temporary staff could go and this has implications for the resources of the organization in terms of adequate staff to provide the service that the college is supposed to deliver effectively and efficiently.”
The trade unionist referred to the Employment Rights Act, stating it clearly specifies the procedures to be followed once retrenchment was being considered.
“Once you are engaged in any termination, retrenchment or whatever, the union should be involved in that process to look at the methodology of the retrenchment exercise and other possibilities to see if they can be absorbed [elsewhere]. All of these should be discussed [during] possible retrenchment,” Walrond explained, accusing the BCC of insensitivity and high-handedness.
“What the Barbados Community College is doing is using the temporary staff who are vulnerable by simply not extending their letters of employment. Now the BCC would be ill-advised to believe they could simply dismiss people after several years of employment by merely not extending their employment. These are positions that would have been going on, whether established or non-established, that would have been existing for some time.”
Additionally, the NUPW representative said the union was very concerned that the management of the BCC was engaging part-time tutors as self-employed workers, which have implications for the workers and the running of the institution.
Principal of the BCC, Dr Gladestone Best could not be reached for comment.
As far back as April this year, the NUPW held discussions with the College administration on alternative cost-cutting measures to avoid sending home between 50 and 75 teaching and ancillary staff.
It was announced at that time that the BCC management was due to get back to the union on the proposals.
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