The island’s largest public sector trade union today denounced “provocative” remarks by Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy regarding the ongoing dispute with the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc (GAIA) over back pay.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is insisting that GAIA owes airport workers a 3.5 per cent rise for 2011, a contention the airport authorities have dismissed.
Sealy supported GAIA’s position when he told a breakfast news conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last week that the union had taken the previously agreed rise off the table during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in December 2010 and confirmed in a subsequent letter from then NUPW General Secretary Dennis Clarke.
The minister added that in his letter, Clarke indicated that the moratorium would be revisited if the Barbados economy had improved by June 2011. He insisted that it had not, and that the authorities were willing to meet with the union but would not negotiate.
The NUPW issued a three-page statement today, challenging Sealy’s contention as a “gross misrepresentation” of the issue.
The union referred to the 2011 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in which Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler told Parliament that the country recorded economic growth of 2.1 per cent at the end of the first half of 2011 due to “a properly thought out and targeted programme as enunciated by me in last November’s budget, together with a light recovery” in North Atlantic economies.
The union also insisted that it would be unconscionable to allow GAIA to renege on “its obligation” since the condition had been met for the increase in wages.
“The union therefore maintains that the provocative remark reported to have been made by the Minister of Tourism [that] ‘we are ready to meet not negotiate’ has no place in modern trade union thinking and should be repudiated in the strongest manner,” the statement said.
It added that the NUPW had always tried to adopt a common-sense approach to matters of industrial relations with GAIA “in a harmonious working relationship” between management and employees. (EJ)