The Freundel Stuart administration and the United Commercial Autoworks Ltd (UCAL) appear to be headed for a showdown.
Protesting UCAL workers have vowed to stay off the job pending the payment of outstanding money, while the Minister of Transport Michael Lashley today warned that the Transport Authority will not be held to ransom.
The employees downed tools yesterday over the non payment of an estimated $21 million by Government, complaining this has led to a situation in which they have racked up a $140,000 bill to their suppliers.
“The workers have had enough of what’s going on at UCAL and the broken promises from the minister. Also, there’s no work coming to UCAL. We’re got workers in here sitting down everyday doing nothing. All Transport Board is doing is giving UCAL enough money to pay workers every week,” one worker told Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity.
“Two weeks gone and we haven’t heard anything from the minister. We’ll continue [the work stoppage] until we get we money.”
However, Lashley was upset that workers took the action and was adamant that he would not be drawn into “negotiating in the Press”.
“It’s bad practice to do it and I’m not going to do it,” he insisted.
He did state that while the arrangement would continue for UCAL to repair Transport Board buses, alterations would be made to their current contract.
“I’ve already given an assurance that there would be a relationship between the two, but I’m saying that at the end of the day the traveling public, the taxpayers or the Transport Board will not be held to ransom,” he said.
“In fact, we’ve started to improve quality assurance and in a meeting yesterday with Transport Board [I learnt that] they sent out 15 buses yesterday so no party or any individual will hold the Transport Board to ransom or the traveling public to ransom.”
The minister commended workers at Transport Board for doing a “fairly good job” repairing buses.
The board of directors of UCAL was meeting this evening to discuss the situation and determine their next course of action.
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