With the deadline now past for workers in the Customs and Excise Department to complete option forms to transition to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA), the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is waiting to find out if any of its members heeded the call not to sign off just yet.
Acting Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond told Barbados TODAY that because of the complexity of issues involved in the move, there were still outstanding matters that first had to be settled.
Customs and Excise officers were insisting on maintaining that title, rather than adopt the proposed designation of Border Control Officer and the NUPW had been seeking to have clerical officers who had functioned as Customs officers over the years without compensation appointed to the positions in which they had acted.
“Our priority is not rushing for a signature to meet a deadline. Our priority is to ensure that Customs officers get the best representation on these complex issues. The union wants to ensure members are comfortable before they sign the option forms,” Walrond said.
Stressing that a collective agreement was yet to be worked out, the trade unionist said there were certain conditions Customs officers currently enjoyed, including allowances, that had to be guaranteed.
“We are saying that these issues have to be comprehensively addressed before we advise members to sign. We still have to look at the collective contract. This is a complex exercise,” Walrond stressed.
Acting Head of the Civil Service Sonja Welch announced at a meeting with officers earlier this month that the transition to BRA would be completed on October 1.
She acknowledged that a number of previous deadlines had not been met, but said there had been good progress in meetings with the trade unions “to clarify any matters” they needed addressed.
Chief Personnel Officer Gail Atkins also explained at the time that information letters that would be sent to the officers would set out details pertaining to the transition and would include “lot of the key issues” that would assist the officers in making their decision.
Revenue Commissioner Margaret Sivers also emphasized during the meeting that the option letters were to be returned to BRA no later than September 19. She also explained that among the available options were that of permanent appointment or secondment for a period of up to two years.