On the eve of Labour Day celebrations, there comes word that part-time tutors of the Barbados Community College (BCC) have won the battle for increases in their hourly pay rates and outstanding back pay.
Along with the money, in the form of increments that date back to 2006, the teachers have won recognition as employees of the college, which is a reversal of the ‘independent contractor’ status BCC had imposed on these workers at the beginning of the semester last year.
The Deputy Chair of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW)/BCC Shop Stewards Council, Margo Bannister, this afternoon described the news of the hourly rate increases as “a victory for workers”.
The pay for BCC part-time tutors prior to 2006 stood at $71.42 an hour, but they were bypassed when the pay scale was revised and increased to $76.78 per hour on January 01, 2006.
“Since 2006 we should have had pay raises. Unfortunately, the Barbados Community College did not increase the part-time tutors’ pay along with the other public servants,” Bannister told Barbados TODAY.
The part-time tutors were again ignored when the pay was revised to $78.70 per hour in 2007; $83.42 an hour in 2008; and up to the $87.17 in 2009, at which it now stands.
“What should happen now . . . is that all the persons who were in the system from way back in 2006 they have to get back pay,” the NUPW member said. The payment of this money, on a date yet to be settled, would cover those part-time tutors currently in the employ of the College and those who have since left the service of BCC.
While the tutors had been aware of the money, which they were denied, they found that entitlement being threatened at the beginning of the semester when the College administration sought to re-classify them, without consultation, as independent contractors, severing their staff ties to the institution and dismissing benefits.
The protesting teachers had to go without pay from August until November when a temporary deal was reached between the NUPW and the Labour Department for monthly sums to be paid pending settlement on the contentious issue of their classification.
That issue was referred to the National Insurance Scheme.
The NIS responded on April 21st stating, “the National Insurance Board has the authority to make a determination for National Insurance purposes on a person’s status, based on provisions of the National Insurance and Social Security Act, Cap 47 of the Laws of Barbados . . . .
“Based on the information available to the NIS, we are of the opinion that the part-time tutors at the Barbados Community College are employees for national insurance purposes”.
This ends the controversy over the status of these tutors, who, now firmly established as BCC employees, are entitled to their back pay, which Bannister said the Ministry of the Civil Service affirmed “ should have been with immediate effect” since 2006.
It is also a victory for veteran trade unionist and NUPW General Secretary Dennis Clarke, who is now on pre-retirement leave.
Clarke had led the workers in protests against BCC management. On one occasion, he was seen being locked out of the Howell’s Cross Road compound.