The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) will not be joining the National Union of Public Workers’ (NUPW) protest against the delay in justice for former National Conservation Commission (NCC) employees.
The retrenched NCC employees represented by the BWU today said a resounding “no” to any such action.
Following a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at BWU headquarters with the workers this afternoon, General Secretary Toni Moore told reporters that members opted to pursue their matter before a newly constituted Employment Rights Tribunal, rather than take protest action or demand their severance now.
The NUPW will hit the streets at a date and time to be decided by its National Council, to protest the long delay in having its members’ case heard by the tribunal and the non-response from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to a request for an interim stipend to ease the former employees’ hardships.
But Moore said she was not bothered by the NUPW’s approach.
“We are heartened that these former workers of the National Conservation Commission, not withstanding the hardship, have determined for themselves and not with any coaching by us that they would want to pursue the matter following a course of principle – one that seeks to demand for themselves justice because they are satisfied that had process been properly observed to date, those among us in this audience would still have been working,” she stressed.
Moore said that once the tribunal – which was hit by the resignations of eight of its nine members last month – was reconstituted, the BWU would be “pursuing the matter via that means unless some other reasonable alternative that gives to the workers the kind of justice that they are pursuing can be suggested to us”.
Moore said that up to this point, the union has no such alternative.
The BWU leader said the former NCC workers were confident that utilizing the tribunal would give them maximum justice in a situation that had been “unfair, untenable and ugly”.
She noted that if the tribunal ruled in the workers’ favour, they could seek damages in addition toseverance.
“If a tribunal finds that it can accept the arguments being put by the Barbados Workers’ Union that process had not been adhered to, the tribunal can rule for reinstatement or the tribunal can rule for damages on top of severance,” she pointed out.
“There can be damages for pain, suffering, for loss of homes, for loss of family, for loss of whatever else has been incurred during the time, as a result of the unwarranted action taken by the National Conservation Commission.”
On the matter of the NUPW’s call for an interim stipend, Moore said it was not raised at today’s meeting.
The BWU boss said that, in any case, she was unsure how such a payment would be determined.
“How the Employment Rights Tribunal would really be able to treat to that when making a final determination when that moment comes – those are issues beyond my limited legal capacity,” she said.