The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) is not prepared to accept any snap decisions regarding the future of Customs Officers yet to be integrated into the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).
In fact, following a meeting today at Government House between BWU officials and Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler, former general secretary of the BWU Sir Roy Trotman told members of the media there was still “a large number of outstanding issues” which were critical to any decisions being made.
Among the issues are job descriptions and conditions of employment.
“We have had discussions of a number of issues, and a number of matters which we were not happy about have been discussed and agreed to, and where not agreed, they will be made clearer. But there is still a large number of outstanding issues, which are essential to having anybody make a determination regarding whether people want to transition to a revenue authority or whether they want to maintain their rights to stay in the central government,” explained Sir Roy.
“We are not anxious to have any speed exercise in making that determination because there are some people who are not yet appointed and whom we want to have appointments for,” he said.
Sir Roy also noted that for some appointed officers the transition into the revenue authority would present challenges for them.
“And we are endeavoring to make sure that where we know what those issues are we put them on the table. The minister and the team on the other side have undertaken to do some further study regarding those matters, which we have spoken about and which have been the subject of written correspondence between the Barbados Workers Union and themselves. They will get back to us on some issues,” the trade unionist explained.
Sir Roy said the information regarding job descriptions and conditions of employment have been given to the BWU and they were “studying” them.
“And we are putting together further proposals to ensure that by the time the exercise is completed that parties on all sides are satisfied that we are doing the best for Barbados as a nation, but for the individual workers as well,” said Sir Roy.
Last week Sinckler, Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer, and representatives of the BWU met, after which Sinckler expressed optimism that about 95 per cent of the workers’ concerns had been addressed.
Sinckler also indicated that he might have to go back to Cabinet and seek to push back the July 1 deadline to integrate the Customs Department into the BRA.
Asked if he had a deadline in mind when he wanted the matters to be fully resolved, Sir Roy said: “No, the Minister is talking about a time he would like the options made available but we have said that we will take that on advisement. We will have discussions with our members and we will write them back on those issues”.
He said the follow-up to today’s meeting would be that “both sides will be back in touch with each other [within] another week or so”.
The former BWU head could not say how many of the Customs Officers were not willing to join the BRA.
“We do not have that yet because people are still hoping to have some issues clarified before they make those decisions,” he said.
Opting not to give details, Sir Roy said: “We have received indications that offers along the lines we are suggesting will be made, but don’t forget we are still in the process of negotiating options. Options have not yet been offered to anybody, and that is so on our request”.