Three employees of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) have been put on the breadline, resuscitating previous claims that separation packages would be offered to more than 25 per cent of its staff.
The circumstances surrounding the retrenchment of the three – a secretary and two accounts clerks – effective December 31, 2016 were not immediately clear.
However, one of the affected employees sought to link it to their absence from a union retreat late last year.
“I feel we were severed because we failed to attend the post annual conference retreat which was held in November,” said the severed worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The former worker, who had been employed at the BWU for just over four years, explained that they were first told of their pending severance around December 1, 2016.
Several attempts to reach BWU General Secretary Toni Moore and other senior union officials were unsuccessful.
However, General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union (UWU) Caswell Franklyn, who first drew the severance to the attention of Barbados TODAY, sought to link it to his earlier contention that the BWU had been planning to cut staff in order to save money.
Stating that he had been approached by some BWU workers for advice, Franklyn had said last August that the country’s largest private sector trade union was offering voluntary separation packages to 13 of its approximately 55 employees upon the recommendation of a New Zealand researcher who had carried out an audit of the organization.
The veteran trade unionist had said at the time that the BWU had experienced a 28 per cent drop in membership – from approximately 25,000 to about 18,000 – dealing a terrible blow to its finances.
However, Moore had flatly denied the allegation, telling Barbados TODAY at the time, “that is not nearly true”.
Franklyn has now returned to the subject, contending he was vindicated by the termination of the three.
“My understanding of the situation is that these three workers did not attend the annual retreat so they were easy to pick . . . . Now the retrenchment process has started. Now the process has begun. I do not lie, at least not deliberately,” the UWU boss stressed.
He also quoted from the BWU’s financial statement to back his claim that its membership had fallen to 13,000, based on its revelation that it had collected about $4 million in dues at an average $310 per member.