The industrial relations climate at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) remains volatile and the union which represents air traffic controllers is warning of the possibility of further unrest.
The airport has been plagued with industrial action in recent months, with customs officers, firemen and air traffic controllers all walking off the job at various times.
In the face of complaints by air traffic controllers about poor working conditions, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Toni Moore told the media following the launch of May Day celebrations at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters, that despite talks with the Ministry of International Transport, the problems had not been resolved.
“There is a lot going on at the airport . . . . We have some ongoing concerns being experienced by workers in the air traffic control area and these matters are occupying our attention,” Moore explained.
“We are hopeful that the ministry recognizes [those] to be issues that need urgent attention, because the last thing that we would want would be for an area which should be regarded as a key strategic area to be compromised because of failure on the part of the ministry . . . to correct and address matters in a timely enough manner.”
Moore would not elaborate on the discussions with the ministry, the latest of which took place on Tuesday. However, she gave this subtle remainder: “We are hopeful that there will be the necessary follow through to avoid any disruptions.”
The air traffic controllers last stayed off the job on Holy Thursday in support of then striking employees of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), who had been agitating for payment of increments. Workers at the Bridgetown Port also went on strike in solidarity with the BWA workers.
An agreement was reached between the union and the water company that led to the end of the industrial action. However, details of the deal were yet to be finalized, according to Moore.
She added that there were other matters that also needed to be resolved.
“We have to be looking at things like individual salaries and verifying that individuals are properly placed within the grades that we have agreed on. We have been reviewing information presented to us and we have been in some back and forth with the company as it relates to finalizing those details.
“There are a number of outstanding issues beyond increments that we have had on the table for sometime as it relates to the workers of the Barbados Water Authority and we have not started that process of addressing those because the details coming out of our 24th of March Holy Thursday agreement are still being finalized and until those matters are concluded we can’t exactly get into addressing the other issues and there are over 30 outstanding issues,” the union boss explained.