The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is giving the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) a deadline of noon tomorrow to rescind termination letters issued yesterday to 13 employees over the age of 60.
Following peaceful picketing outside the BIDC’s Princess Alice Highway office this morning where workers expressed their frustration over the decision to send the 13 employees into early retirement, NUPW acting Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond said the deadline was an ultimatum that should not be ignored by BIDC or the union would take action.
“They have until 12 noon tomorrow to rescind the letters so we can move forward with a meeting to have discussions,” Walrond said.
Yesterday, the Union threatened to take the state corporation to court for unlawfully terminating the workers.
But today, BIDC said through a press release that the action was in keeping with the law as the corporation goes through restructuring and moves forward aggressively with increased focus and accountability.
The release said the outcome of changes being undertaken would be “a smaller, nimbler organization; better equipped to innovate, propel its work forward and offer the response our industry portfolio now urgently requires”.
“Reaching that goal requires the tough decision to eliminate jobs, which means losing colleagues and parting with friends. Yesterday, we began the process of transitioning persons towards retirement,” the BIDC release went on.
“We value all of our staff and for those who will be leaving, we express our appreciation for their dedicated and loyal service and for their ongoing contribution to the development of the corporation over the years. We will be providing resources to help them through their transition,” it added.
BIDC said the terminations complied with Section 8 (1) of the Statutory Boards (Pensions) Act, Cap. 384 of the Laws of Barbados by requiring officers in its service who have attained the age of 60 years, on or before August 31, 2015, to retire on the effective date of September 30.
Walrond argued that BIDC was using this clause arbitrarily as it was only to be used in consultation with workers in special circumstances. He said the clause was not to disadvantage workers or to be used unilaterally.
“In other words, if you have retrenchment, you may consult with the workers and ask them if they are willing to voluntarily retire. The clause that they are using cannot supersede national policy. The clause cannot supersede the circular that was sent by the Ministry of Civil service informing all its departments that the age of compulsory retirement has been extended to synchronize with the National Insurance old age pension,” he explained.
Walrond said the NUPW would leave no stone unturned until justice is served. He said the matter was wider than BIDC and sent a signal to all statutory board employees that they may not have a job after 60.
“This is not good for our nation. This is not good for people who are taking out mortgages. This is not good for people who have planned their life around being able to exercise the option to work up to the compulsory age of retirement which is 66 and a half years,” he said.