Workers at the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc. (GAIA) are not entitled to any 3.5 per cent pay increase.
That was the conclusion reached by Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo following a three-hour meeting at her Warrens, St Michael office today with representatives of GAIA’s management and the worker’s bargaining agent.
However, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is refusing to accept the minister’s decision.
Adamant that the 3.5 per cent was due to the airport employees, NUPW President Akanni McDowall is threatening to “fight, fight, fight, until the workers get what is owed to them”.
However, speaking to reporters at the end of the talks, the Minister of Labour, who had also met with the two sides on Monday, highlighted a December 28, 2010 meeting chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. She explained that though the union asked that this meeting be struck from the record, she had concluded otherwise.
“It was a meeting that the parties agreed to; that they came to it voluntarily; and that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart chaired at the request of the union,” the Labour Minister said, stressing that a decision reached at that meeting therefore constituted “a valid collective agreement.
“I have examined the union’s argument and I have examined all of the documents that were available to me. We have heard from persons who were at the meeting as well, and having heard all of that, it seems clear that the 3.5 per cent wage increase initially proposed for 2011 was taken off the table when the parties met in December 2010,” Dr Byer-Suckoo said.
“Other statements, other letters, later proposals for newer agreements all seem to support that view that the 2011 zero per cent increase was accepted and the 3.5 per cent was taken off the table. Everything seems to point in that direction and so I had to conclude to the workers who today brought evidence for me to opine on whether or not the 3.5 per cent is owed to them. I had to conclude that it is not, since it was taken off the table in December 2010,” she further explained.
She also called for the union, the workers and the management of GAIA to work harmoniously going forward.
However, a defiant McDowall told reporters that the union was “uncomfortable” with the minister’s decision.
“We would have presented all of the evidence to the minister, but she refused to accept the evidence and decided that the workers were not owed the 3.5 per cent,” he said, telling reporters that the next step for the union would be to seek a mandate from its General Council, which is the decision making body, on what action should be taken under the circumstances.