Authorities at the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) have seemingly contravened Barbados’ laws in forcing 13 of its employees into compulsorily retirement.
Last week at a meeting convened by top officials at the BIDC, the 13, including Human Resources Manager David Parris, were notified that they would be compulsorily retired by September 30.
The workers, all approaching age 60, were drawn from a number of departments. Two other employees from the Information Technology Department were also laid off and immediately escorted off the premises by security.
However, today acting Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Delcia Burke told Barbados TODAY that based on what occurred last week, officials at the BIDC seemed either to be unaware of the changes in the law or were just simply ignoring them.
She explained that the BIDC were in breach of the Pensions Act, as well as Employment Rights legislation.
“The laws were changed in 2005 with respect to retiring persons at age 60. There are also certain protocols with respect to sending home as many as ten per cent of your entire staff,” Burke said.
She explained that the change in the law allowed for people to work to age 66 and a half and that they should not be forcibly retired by virtue of attaining age 60.
Burke noted that if the BIDC went ahead with sending home the 13, they would still have to pay them all statutory monetary entitlements between age 60 and 66.
She also revealed that the NUPW had not been made part of the retrenchment process in keeping with the rights of the employees. The NUPW was notified of the dismissals on the same day the decision was announced to staffers last week.
The unionist told Barbados TODAY the NUPW met with the BIDC yesterday and apprised top management of the breaches committed.
“They were supposed to respond in writing. I understand that has been done but I have not as yet seen that response,” she said.
Barbados TODAY was informed this afternoon that a decision had been taken by the BIDC to allow the workers to continue until September 30 as a means of avoiding paying monies in lieu of notice as well as vacation pay.
It is understood that the lay-offs are all part of BIDC’s cost-cutting measures.
Today one staffer said the BIDC needed to level with staff about what was really going at the cash-strapped corporation. He noted that while there was talk about cutting expenditure, two managers were hired from outside the BIDC last year to do work which existing staff were qualified to do. He stated that both, one of whom is a relative of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, were subsequently made directors.
Efforts this evening to reach BIDC chief executive officer Sonja Trotman were unsuccessful.