Veteran trade union leader Sir Roy Trotman has taken the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) to task for showing “disrespect” to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer, the trade union movement and its workers.
And he has called on Stuart to “answer” that disrespect.
The former Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) general secretary today chastised the utility company for taking a decision to lay off approximately 20 per cent of its workforce without first consulting the union.
“The call I make now is for the Prime Minister to recognize the disrespect to this Government, the disrespect to employees in Barbados, the disrespect to the trade union movement, and the disrespect to all the people in Barbados by Barbados Light and Power Co.; that that disrespect must be answered,” Sir Roy said.
He charged that without “rhyme or reason” the Barbados Light and Power Co. had made the layoff decision and had not followed the decent approach.
The retired BWU boss said the company’s action was not in keeping with the “compact” between the private sector and unions and Government – a position taken by the union’s current leadership which stated last month that the BL&P’s correspondence to workers informing them of plans to cut staff was a breach of Protocol VI of the Social Partnership and provisions of the Employment Rights Act.
“It is a compact that cannot be treated like a stale loaf of salt bread; we cannot treat light and loose. It involves important issues that have to deal with the very fabric of our society, our community. We are a special people that have come through rough times and will come through other rough times because we have dared to believe in ourselves, believe in our people and to believe that we can do it together,” Sir Roy said.
Sir Roy added: “We must not allow the Barbados Light & Power Company . . . any company to so cavalierishly ride roughshod over the wishes of our people, the democracy we love, that the cohesiveness that we have brought about is lost because one person chooses to believe that the man is greater than the nation.”
The trade unionist made the comments as he contributed to debate on the Electric Light and Power (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in the Senate today.
He recalled that under the leadership of Frank McConney, the BL&P was a major player in the Social Partnership arrangement and he therefore called on the new leadership to follow the dictum, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’.
Sir Roy stressed that workers in Barbados must not be seen as hoe sticks to be discarded and thrown into the fire when they have served their purpose.
In a circular dated March 25, the BL&P informed workers of a cost-cutting plan that would result in some job losses. It offered workers voluntary separation.