Bridgetown port workers walked off the job for 45 minutes this morning, angry not with management but with their union.
Workers who spoke to Barbados TODAY said they were upset after learning the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) had accepted the port’s offer to match the Government’s five-per cent pay increase for public workers, without first consulting them.
The workers, who have not received a pay increase in close to ten years and were in talks on a wage hike, stopped work at about 9 a.m., prompting a conference call with BWU General Secretary Toni Moore who is overseas on business.
The union has rescinded a letter dated August 14 accepting the matching offer, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Port Incorporated David Jean-Marie confirmed.
“The union has since put a hold on that letter and workers have returned to work” pending further discussions with the workers, he told Barbados TODAY.
“I don’t understand how you could just accept the first offer that comes your way. That is not how people negotiate. Five per cent is a start but you have to work out the thing with us. Everybody has to agree on this. The port workers [are] always the first to come out when the BWU call for a strike so we expect more respect than that from them,” said one worker, who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity.
“The BWU is not negotiating for itself, it is negotiating for us, so how could they agree to something without coming back to us. We have to be consulted because we are the ones who are in the position and we are ones who know what our needs are and what would be a fair payment for us,” was the view of another angry worker.
Barbados TODAY made numerous attempts to contact members of the BWU executive but was unsuccessful on each occasion.
The workers indicated that they were not all happy and as result they withdrew their labour for brief period,” Jean Marie said, stressing that the dispute had nothing to do with any grievances with the port’s management.