Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo will meet on Monday morning with both parties in the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) pay dispute in the hope of brokering a settlement.
However, a question mark hangs over the minister’s intervention.
Today an official of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) told Barbados TODAY that under the Employment Rights Act, only the Chief Labour Officer or the Employment Rights Tribunal had any authority or standing in the dispute. The official therefore suggested that the Minister of Labour could not make any meaningful difference in the impasse.
However, when contacted Byer-Suckoo pointed out that while the minister had no standing under the Act when it comes to unfair dismissals, the same did not apply to wage negotiations.
“We are not talking about dismissals, these are wage negotiations. The Employment Rights Act does not deal
with wage negotiations,” the Minister of Labour told Barbados TODAY.
While stating that the concern of the union was nothing new, Byer-Suckoo said the airport dispute was currently on her desk, adding that, “as far as I understand it [the parties] have agreed to come to meet with me.”
However, the NUPW official warned that the union may only attend Monday’s meeting as a courtesy to the minister.
Barbados TODAY also understands that when the union’s decision-making body, the National Council, meets on Thursday, it will be updated on the latest breakdown in talks. Sources say the council will also be asked to sanction proposed strike action.
The NUPW is demanding a 3.5 per cent wage hike which it contends is owed to the airport workers dating back to 2010/2011. However, GAIA is insisting that the increase had been taken off the table during a December 2010 meeting chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
But the union maintains that both parties agreed that the money would be paid if the economy grew during the first half of 2011and that there’s proof of the growth in the 2011 Budget statement by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.