The industrial relations climate at JADA Group remains unstable following a five-hour work stoppage Thursday over pay and conditions of work.
Employees at four locations who had downed their tools returned to work around 2 p.m. after a meeting with their representative, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU). However, the threat of strike continues to hang over the company as workers press for better pay.
Whether or not the protest would continue “depends on the contents of the letter that the union rep is bringing to us. Then we will decide what action to take,” shop steward Tyrone Edwards told Barbados TODAY before the protest had ended.
The two sides are far apart on the wages issue, with the BWU demanding a 20 per cent rise, while the company is offering no more than 2.5 per cent over a three-year period, according to a letter from JADA Group to the BWU, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY.
In the letter, signed by Paul Lewis of JADA Builders Inc and addressed to the union’s general secretary but sent to the attention of Juliet Pollard, the company said it was willing to compromise on some aspects of its proposal, although it was sticking to its offer of a 1.5 per cent increase in year one for A-class carpenters, masons and general workers.
“I reiterate that offer forms part of our proposals in response to your initial request for a 20 per cent hike in wages. Our remaining wages counter offer was for a one per cent increase in year one and 0.5 per cent in year two and again 0.5 in year three. We now confirm our willingness to increase to one per cent our offer above for year three,” the letter said.
It was an unsatisfactory meeting with management yesterday on wages and work boots that led workers at Leigh House, a private residence at Sandy Lane, St James; Beachlands in Sunset Crest, St James; Blue Lagoon at The Garden in the same parish, and Spring Hall in St Lucy to take industrial action, the employees said.
When Barbados TODAY visited three of the four locations today, some workers openly vented their frustrations over the matter.
“We are looking for an increase in pay. There was a meeting yesterday and what they are proposing to pay the men, the union doesn’t agree with it. This negotiation was supposed to go on now for over six years. We haven’t gotten an increase in over six years. So that’s one of the reasons we are doing this here [striking]. And for better conditions as well.
“They want to give you job work but when they give you job work you can’t make a proper days pay. So all of that is issues that we have to deal with,” the frustrated worker said.
In Paul’s letter to the BWU, he expressed regret over the manner in which yesterday’s discussions ended and requested a meeting on November 8 or 9 to “clarify in writing their position regarding our initial offer as well as counter offer”, based on correspondence from the union and meetings on held on September 13 and yesterday.
“Notwithstanding the aforementioned which speaks to wages and our clarification thereof regarding our offer and counter, we are confident that we can satisfactorily agree a final mutually acceptable wages agreement upon our recommencement of talks on November 8th. Furthermore we would be happy to address all remaining concerns and proposals [we] have at that time and to mutual satisfaction,” the letter stated.
Attempts to get comments from the BWU and JADA Group were unsuccessful up until the time of publication.