The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) is seeking to broker a speedy resolution to a potentially explosive situation at the Spring Garden generating plant of the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P).
Close to a dozen workers from the Generation Department walked off the job last Wednesday, alleging that a white Canadian consultant had kicked a black employee.
Details surrounding the incident remain unclear, but the protesting workers had made their feelings known through placards, many ridiculing the Canadian, who some referred to as Joe.
“Joe must go,” one placard blared, while another stated: “182 days remaining for Joe”.
“Who gave a work permit to a Safety Officer after over 150 plus workers gone home?” screamed a third, while another tied in the 50th anniversary of Independence, stating, “Hi, I am Joe from Canada. Happy 50th Kick, Kicknadian”.
With the situation at a sensitive stage, BWU Deputy General Secretary Dwaine Paul told Barbados TODAY the matter was being investigated and the union would meet soon with BL&P management in an attempt to stave off an escalation of protest action.
“We understand that at the Barbados Light & Power there’s an incident that took place. The union has been informed of the incident [and] we are investigating. We met with the workers [last week] and we are going to meet with the company very shortly towards having the matter addressed,” Paul said.
The trade unionist refused to provide further details, insisting, “that is as much as we are prepared to say at this time as it relates to the issue at Light & Power”.
Following last week’s protest, the company issued a statement in which Human Resource Manager Gail-Ann King expressed disappointment that employees had chosen to protest “when there is an established, agreed procedure to deal with all grievances”.
The company stated that the work stoppage was in response to “a misconstrued nudge between a supervisor and an employee at a recent meeting”.
It said the supervisor subsequently apologized to that meeting and the employee had accepted the apology.
“The company’s investigation showed that there was no harmful intent and none was perceived,” the statement assured.