It’s not only about money!
That’s the strong message the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) wants Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo to deliver to her ministerial colleague Dr David Estwick and other top officials of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).
Intervening in the impasse between the two sides this morning, the minister met at Parliament Building for 90-minutes with a BWU delegation, which was led by General Secretary Toni Moore, and included retired General Secretary Sir Roy Trotman, Senior Assistant General Secretary Orlando Gabby Scott, Executive Assistant Cindy Greene and President of the BWA Division Carl Boyce.
Byer-Suckoo was also scheduled to meet a BWA delegation this afternoon before attempting to bring the two sides together at the bargaining table.
Last Wednesday, BWA workers took to the picket line protesting the non-payment of over $30 million in increments due to the authority’s 830 workers over the past ten years.
However, since the strike began the union boss has been contending that the action had more to do with “disrespect” shown by the management of the BWA, which the BWU charges has failed to meet a number of agreed deadlines.
“What we have done therefore for the last few minutes in that meeting [with Byer-Suckoo] was to clearly articulate this union’s position, reiterating that while the subject of discussion over a ten year period has been about increments, the action taken by the Executive Council of the union relates less to increments . . . [and] more to the issue of disrespect shown by the BWA and its continued insistence on dishonouring agreements which it made over time,” she told reporters at the conclusion of the meeting around 12:30 p.m.
Moore also made it clear that the talks with the minister were only “exploratory” at this stage. Therefore, she said, the now five-day-old strike by unionized BWA workers would go on, despite Byer-Suckoo’s intervention.
“In these exploratory meetings it is just to hear without inputting anything into the discussions on her part. She is more likely to make inputs when the two parties come together whenever that time is,” Moore explained.
Management of the BWA is yet to say what financial impact the union-led action is having, even though some residents in water-starved communities in St Joseph have been complaining to Barbados TODAY since last week that the strike has only served to make their situation worse.
At the start of the strike last Tuesday, Dr Estwick the Minister of Water Resources Management had also warned that it was the last thing the country needed in the face of recent water woes.
Dr Estwick could not be reached for comment this evening. However, the BWA’s Chairman Dr Atlee Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY the stike had negatively affected its response to outages, particularly in the north of the island, where difficulties persisted in terms of the refilling community tanks.
Brathwaite also warned that the strike could compromise the BWA’s finances, even though he could not give any details as to the current financial impact.
He also revealed that Dr Estwick met with members of the BWA’s negotiating team earlier today and that a follow up meeting with Dr Byer-Suckoo was scheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m.