An industrial relations battle is looming between the Unity Workers Union (UWU) and Island Furniture Ltd in Vaucluse Factory, St Thomas over terms and conditions of work and representation for its 13 employees.
UWU General Secretary Caswell Franklyn today accused the furniture factory of treating the workers as modern day slaves, charging that the only difference was that the workers were not being whipped by their bosses.
“Nobody in Barbados should work under such stressful conditions,” the outspoken Franklyn said, as he painted a picture of workers functioning in unsatisfactory conditions and having their pay docked if furniture is damaged through the company’s fault.
The employees staged a two-day sick-out this week to protest against these conditions and today, Franklyn made a point of telling Barbados TODAY that the UWU had given the protesting workers 75 per cent of their wages from the union’s strike fund.
The veteran trade unionist claimed employees, some of whom have been with the company for over 30 years, were being paid as little as $460 a week for producing custom-made furniture and doors for high-end businesses at home and abroad.
At the same time, he claimed, Island Furniture has refused to recognize the union as the workers’ representative despite the fact that UWU had secured this right during a poll conducted by the office of the Chief Labour Officer.