The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) has suspended its threat to escalate the ongoing strike at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) over increments, after receiving an invitation this evening from Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo to a meeting at the CBC at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
As a result, workers of the Barbados Water Authority (BWU) who today came out in support of their fellow union members nearby, will return to normal duty tomorrow.
However, in an apparent deviation from the norm in industrial relations protocol, the CBC employees will remain on strike pending the outcome of Wednesday’s talks.
BWU General Secretary Toni Moore explained that the union was being cautious because the state broadcaster had broken its promises to the workers.
She went on to state that the minister’s letter did not indicate a sense of urgency, given that the meeting is being held no earlier than Wednesday morning. . .
“I prefer use of the word ‘caution’ because under normal industrial relations circumstances, especially where a strike is at the stage that this one is at, on day six, a meeting like this should not have been proposed almost 48 hours after the time it [the letter] was delivered. So that is not normal circumstances,” Moore said late this evening at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters where a meeting had been held with shop stewards to discuss the way forward.
“So that our approach to continue the strike isn’t unusual. We continue the strike until the point we are entering the meeting to contemplate some resolution.”
In any event, the BWU leader made it clear the union would not tolerate any attempts by the Minister of Labour or CBC to renegotiate an agreement that had already been reached under Byer-Suckoo’s chairmanship for across-the-board payment of increments.
The union contends that the state-run radio, television and cable outfit reneged on the agreement.
“If it is their intention [to renegotiate], that is unacceptable because an agreement has already been reached and that agreement needs to be honoured, for all and not just for some,” Moore insisted.
The BWU on Saturday advised the minister of its intention to escalate the industrial action to include more of its members, beginning with the BWA, whose employees Moore said had suffered “the same disrespect for the honouring of agreement on increments”.
The union kept to its word today, as BWA workers joined the picketing CBC workers, stating that they had no difficulty joining their colleagues because their fight was the same.
“I keep saying to you that CBC is linked to the Water Authority in terms of the increments. CBC first got theirs about two or three years before us, we got a part of ours after that. In both instances half of the agreement has been kept by both of the management but the last part has not been kept,” Carl Boyce, the BWU’s division leader at the water company, said in reference to a March 2016 agreement with the BWA on increments.
Boyce also warned that the workers were in the fight for the long haul, and were fast growing weary with the banter on the issue as he urged the union to “up de ting” to apply pressure at both statutory corporations.