That was the argument put forward Friday by President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall in response to last Friday’s ruling by the Employment Rights Tribunal in the “wrongful dismissal” cases brought against the state-run National Conservation Commission (NCC).
While the Tribunal agreed that the workers who were severed in April 2014 were wrongfully dismissed, it denied the demand by the NUPW and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) to reinstate the retrenched employees.
Instead, the panel ordered compensation equivalent to 52 week’s wages, much to the disgust of the affected workers.
“Agreements to re-instate or re-engage are relatively rare since a decision by a party to terminate the employment relationship is usually one where the party is unwilling to retract its decision. Tribunals recognize that in practice little purpose is served by forcefully re-uniting an employer and former employee in circumstances where they are unlikely to be able to rebuild the necessary relationship of trust and confidence.
“It was clearly demonstrated from the evidence taken in this matter that the practicability of re-instatement or re-engagement of the complaints at this time is too remote given the reason for the implementation of the redundancy measures in the first place; it is our view that there would have to be an adjustment to the policy articulated by the Government . . . for reinstatement or re-engagement to be practicable. And even though the complainants expressed a wish to be reinstated, an order for reinstatement or indeed re-engagement would, in the circumstances, be therefore nugatory,” the Tribunal Chairman Hal Gollop, QC, said in explaining the decision.
McDowall told Barbados TODAY this argument made no sense and the union had scheduled a meeting for the workers next Tuesday evening to hear their views on the matter.
“How often would a worker who is working on the beach interact with management. The NCC is a large organization, therefore that reasoning does not make any sense at all,” the NUPW said.
McDowall revealed that the NUPW had already met with its legal counsel Pat Cheltenham to get a list of the options that are available to the union.
“If the retrenched workers say to us that they are unhappy with the ruling of the Tribunal and we give them the options available and they decide to go with the option then we in the union have to do that,” he explained.
The workers have already made their positions clear, with many of those who showed up for the ruling expressing their disgust and insisting they wanted their jobs back.