Veteran trade unionist Sir Roy Trotman has reiterated a call for constant dialogue between workers and employers, particularly when businesses are looking to reduce their workforce.
The retired General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) led discussions on behalf of the union with the Massy Group over the retrenchment of staff.
Massy intended to sever 190 employees but agreed during the talks to cut this number to 70, saving 120 jobs.
Sir Roy Trotman, now a consultant with the BWU, chaired a two-hour meeting yesterday with over 100 Massy workers at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters at Harmony Hall, St Michael.
“The reduction in the number of workers targeted for severance has been done not purely by the skills of the workers alone, but also by the goodwill of the employer as well. This was achieved by the employers’ willingness to entertain suggestions for some new initiatives which could be taken to effect a different approach to the level of workers being placed on the breadline. This new approach was adopted at a time when the country could ill afford to have more people going off on unemployment and being unable to help their families,” Sir Roy said.
“It was the biggest concern of the BWU and we have been trying here and elsewhere to see the extent to which by consultation and by dialogue we might be able to affect the employment levels for the better. The company has responded favourably, I am pleased to say.”
The union has in the recent past claimed that some employers had been unwilling to engage in meaningful talks with the workers’ representative in the lead up to the retrenchment of staff.
Last year the BWU became embroiled in a row with the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P) over the dismissal of 68 workers in a US$14 million cost saving programme.
BWU General Secretary Toni Moore warned then that the power company would not be allowed to send home workers before discussing the matter with the Social Partnership.
Following yesterday’s meeting, Sir Roy compared the BL&P’s approach to Massy, which he said had accepted the tradition established by Barbados Shipping & Trading (BS&T) to commit to dialogue and conciliation.
“Good industrial relations have existed overtime between BS&T and now Massy and the BWU. We have had an exemplary relationship with BS&T. They have been always willing to have consultations; to have dialogue and have been open and transparent in the way they have dealt with workers’ problems.
“I believe it is that approach that should be copied by other companies. If we had only had something like that at Barbados Light & Power last year, Barbados would have been much the prouder for it. I would like to see the BS&T example copied by other companies,” the trade unionist said.
The two sides met again today for another round of talks, but following the near three-hour meeting both sides declined comment.