The island’s more than 25,000 public sector and quasi-public sector workers will be called out to take industrial action in support of retrenched National Conservation Commission (NCC) employees.
In making the announcement this morning, Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Roslyn Smith told a highly-charged meeting of former NCC staff that she will submit to the union’s National Council, next Friday, a strategy for the most effective protest to “shake people’s thoughts” and get the appropriate results.
Smith said all public servants, including workers in statutory corporations, would be asked to hit the streets to protest the long delay in resolving the “unfair dismissal” of the NCC employees, in addition to the suffering they have been experiencing for over eight months, due to the delay in the Employment Rights Tribunal hearing their case.
The union boss informed the more than 25 retrenched workers who turned out that all public servants would be asked to gather in Queen’s Park on the day appointed for the demonstration.
A date and time have yet to be set but Smith said staging the protest to coincide with the next meeting of Parliament, scheduled for January 13, was one option the National Council would consider.
“I believe given the mood of the workers this morning, that they are clear that they want to hit the streets in protest of the delay because they said they were off since April and, to date, the promised hearing with the tribunal is not forthcoming,” said Smith.
“We will be asking our shop stewards and other public officers to join the march. It is to support the cause of the workers at NCC and Beautify Barbados. They have some fundamental issues which we believe should be corrected.”
The NUPW top official said the union would also formalize that arrangement and determine how many of the former workers wanted their jobs back.
Smith said the union expected that Government would recognize the urgency of the workers’ concerns and therefore convene a meeting with the NUPW.
The union will also be protesting the “lack of response” from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to a letter regarding the financial plight of the retrenched staff.
“We had asked that an interim payment be paid to the workers, whereby they could have eased the burden over the holidays until the tribunal met,” she said.
“We were of the view they we were going to have a meeting with the tribunal this month. Unfortunately, the resignations [eight of the nine tribunal members] would have set that back. We [NUPW] have not submitted a replacement as yet so I do not know if it will be formally ready to treat to the hearings within three months, next month, this month.”
The NUPW wants the reinstatement of the workers they insist were unfairly dismissed.
It has insisted that if the last-in, first-out policy was followed, many of the retrenched NCC employees would still be at work and others who kept their job would be the ones on the breadline.
Meantime, the Barbados Workers’ Union, which also represents some of the NCC workers, will hold a meeting next Monday afternoon to determine the direction it will take.