The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) march planned for tomorrow is nothing more than a “showpiece” and a power play by a union leader who wants to impress members.
Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman expressed that view when he addressed members of the Democratic Labour Party’s St James branch meeting last night, hinting that the NUPW’s Acting General Secretary Roslyn Smith is seeking to assert herself by leading members on a march to protest the delay in the Employment Rights Tribunal hearing the case of retrenched National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers.
“Don’t worry too much about that. That is only somebody trying hard to get the position and they have to show that they are stronger than somebody else . . . ,” Kellman told those gathered at the Weston Community Centre, St James.
Smith took up the top post at the NUPW late last year after Dennis Clarke went on pre-retirement leave.
However, she dismissed Kellman’s comments, saying they were “in poor taste at this point in time”.
“I don’t need to solidify myself with a march, as a veteran trade unionist of 42 years,” she told Barbados TODAY.
“Industrial relations from time to time call for protest action and this action is no different from any other protest action that would have been taken over the years. I cannot take it on my own to ratify a march. The council did so and I am carrying it out as an employee of the union . . . So I totally disagree with Mr Kellman’s assessment or understanding of it.”
While Prime Minister Freundel Stuart referred the retrenchment of nearly 200 NCC workers to the tribunal shortly after the workers were sent on the breadline last April it has yet to meet.
Eight of the nine members resigned last month. The unions and employers’ body are in the process of confirming their representatives for a newly constituted tribunal.
“I know for sure, if this new [tribunal] does not act, the same thing that happened to the old one will happen to that too. We will have to find some new people willing to act,” Kellman said last night.