The President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Akanni McDowall, today sought to distance himself from recent correspondence sent by the union’s General Secretary Roslyn Smith to Chief Executive Officer of the Grantley Adams International Airport David Barrow, demanding a four per cent wage increase for GAIA workers for 2011.
Yesterday, Barbados TODAY published a copy of the letter sent by Smith on March 11, 2016, even as the union had been meeting with Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo on a disputed 3.5 per cent pay increase for that same year.
However, while claiming that the letterhead used was not “authentic because it carries the names of two former officers of the union”, namely its past President Walter Maloney and the retired General Secretary Dennis Clarke, McDowall said those salary proposals were also not sanctioned by the General Council of the NUPW.
He further stated that since the National Council — which is the NUPW’s highest decision-making body — was yet to meet on the matter of a four per cent wage increase, its executives did not have a mandate to enter into any such discussions with GAIA Inc.
However, in the letter dated March 11, 2016, which is signed by Smith, the union boss clearly states that “in light of rising utility costs, increased fuel costs, increased Value Added Tax and Land Tax, the addition of new taxes (Consolidated Tax and the Municipal Solid Waste Tax), increased costs of basic food items and the removal of many non-taxable allowances and tax exemptions, the National Council at its meeting of December 23, 2015 has given a mandate that the union negotiates for increased wages and salaries.”
Smith goes on to state that in an effort to balance the needs of its members in this difficult time while simultaneously giving support to economic recovery, the NUPW is asking for an increase of eight per cent for January-December 2012; four per cent for January-December 2013; four per cent for January-December 2014 and another four per cent for January-December 2015.
In an amendment to her March 11, 2016 letter, which sent to Barrow three days later, Smith also revealed that her union, which has been at odds with Government in recent months over a 3.5 per pay increase for 2011, was seeking an increase of four per cent for the period January to December 2011.
And in an attempt to justify the proposals, the NUPW General Secretary said while the union was mindful of the global economic downturn and its effect on the local economy, it was cognizant of the fact that many countries globally, particularly Barbados’ source markets in the USA, the United Kingdom and Canada, have been recovering steadily since 2013.
When contacted late this evening, Smith did not deny that had written the letters, but was adamant that as General Secretary of the NUPW she had a function to perform.
However, she refused to be drawn into any further discussion on McDowall’s claims that her correspondence was neither authentic nor mandated by the National Council.