The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is hoping to meet again next week with officials of the Ministry of Finance to discuss outstanding matters related to the proposed transition of Customs & Excise Department employees into the umbrella Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) on July 1.
Of particular concern to the workers and their official bargaining agent is the issue of appointments, with several customs officers, including top officials in the department, currently serving in acting positions.
During a two-hour meeting attended by close to 40 workers at the NUPW’s Dalkeith Road, St Michael headquarters today, they were given a status update by their union on a recent meeting held between the NUPW and finance officials.
The customs officers also raised the issue of supersession, while insisting that such matters must be addressed before the change over occurs in just under two months time.
Strong concern was also expressed about the impact of the change over on border security.
Acting NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith told reporters the union was specifically seeking to get the Government’s assurance that the BRA transition would be done to the satisfaction of the people of Barbados.
Smith said the NUPW was further interested in ensuring everything was in place in terms of the legislation, since the Customs & Excise Department had “a lot of pieces of rules, regulations and Acts”.
“We are asked to ensure that the workers are protected under the law,” she added.
The acting NUPW general secretary said the workers were promised a document on the transition to BRA, but to date they have not received one.
In all, 279 of the 300 officers currently employed by Customs will be affected by the move. It was not immediately clear what would happen to the remaining Customs & Excise staff, who were originally scheduled to transition into BRA by April 1.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler called on all parties involved to settle their differences.
“As you can imagine, moving from public sector into statutory entity there are some challenges that would occur, but I am confident that the sides can sit down and work out so that each employee can be given what they are due, because the process has always been governed by the basic principle that people should not be placed at a disadvantage over their public sector status; that they should transfer to no less favourable [status] than what they are currently at,” Sinckler said.