Laid off National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers who are unhappy with the delay in the start of their case before the Employment Rights Tribunal should blame their unions for taking the matter there.
So says Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who today washed his hands of the decision to take the workers’ grievances surrounding their retrenchment to that arbitration body.
The workers’ representatives, the National Union of Public Workers and the Barbados Workers’ Union, insist that the last in, first out policy was ignored in deciding who would be among those sent home from the NCC in Government’s retrenchment exercise last year.
“I have been accused of sending people to the Employment Rights Tribunal just to kill the matter related to the NCC,” Stuart said in the House of Assembly during debate on the 2015/2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
“Let the record show that the Prime Minister chaired a meeting with the unions and with the NCC and received, in writing, a request from the unions that the matter be sent to the Employment Rights Tribunal, and all the Prime Minister did was to say, ‘if the unions want this, who am I to say no to it’.”
Stuart said he recognized the logic of the BWU and the NUPW in going that route, because they did not want to be in a position of having to decide which NCC employees should go home.
“So they took the position to let the matter go to an independent agency for determination and they would feel bound by the decision of that agency,” he said.
“All the Prime Minster did was to say if that is the wish of the unions I have no choice but to accede to and abide by that.”