The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) said it would settle for nothing less than the reinstatement of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers who were severed over two years ago as part of Government’s cost-cutting programme.
Chairman of the Employment Rights Tribunal Hal Gollop, QC, yesterday promised to have a decision on the cases brought by the unions representing the workers, the NUPW and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) by the middle of this month.
NUPW President Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY in an interview that the workers were anxiously awaiting the ruling, which was previously promised at the end of June.
McDowall said the union wanted no less than the rehiring of the severed employees by the statutory agency.
“The only position that I think would be fair to those NCC workers, having gone through such a long period of suffering, would be that of reinstatement. I do not see any other move being credible. If we talk about compensation you cannot in my mind compensate those workers for the type of suffering they would have gone through,” he said.
“If you reinstate the workers then they can continue to support their families for a long time. If you give them a one-off payment then they only have that money for a period of time.”
The workers were retrenched in April 2014, after the Freundel Stuart administration announced that 3,000 public servants would be axed as part of belt tightening measures to remedy the ailing economy.
Both the BWU and the NUPW bitterly opposed the retrenchments, insisting that Government’s last in, first out policy was not applied.
Repeated negotiations between NCC management, the unions and even the intervention of the Chief Labour Officer yielded no progress and the matter was subsequently turned over to the Prime Minister who referred it to the Employment Rights Tribunal.
After a lengthy delay, the NUPW’s case was heard and wrapped up in April, but Gollop then angered the public workers’ union by announcing he would reserve a ruling until after the BWU’s case was dispensed with.
Today, McDowall complained that the wheels of justice at the Employment Rights Tribunal seemed to turn slowly, expressing the hope that the latest deadline would be the final one.
Meanwhile, when asked for a comment on the pending ruling, BWU General Secretary Toni Moore told Barbados TODAY: “There is nothing to be said at this time. We said everything during the hearings. We are just awaiting the ruling.”