The Employment Rights Tribunal has delivered a ruling that appears to restrict employers’ obligations under the Employment Rights Act to consult with workers or their union prior to making a post redundant.
However, under the employment rights law, provision is made for consultation with an employee or bargaining agent in cases where “the business of an employer will be reduced by ten per cent or any significant number”.
The ruling comes as a former loans supervisor with the Barbados Workers’ Union Cooperative Credit Union, who sued his employer for unfair dismissal, has had his claim thrown out by the three-member labour adjudication board.
The unanimous verdict of the panel, chaired by lawyer Omari Drakes, was handed down last week Tuesday in the case of Emmerson Bascombe versus the BWU Cooperative Credit Union.
“The Tribunal unanimously finds that the principal reason for the claimant’s dismissal was redundancy. The Tribunal further finds that Sections 31 (4), (5) and (6) of the Employments Rights Act have no application to this case, and as such, there was no obligation placed on the respondent [credit union] to consult with the claimant or his union,” the judgement read.
Section 31 sets down as the condition under which consultations must take place before a position is made redundant, the contemplation of at least a ten per cent or more reduction of the employer’s business.
“In light of the findings, the claimant’s claim of unfair dismissal is dismissed,” the Commissioners concluded.
Bascombe, who was dismissed on December 31, 2013, brought his claim for unfair dismissal pursuant to Section 32 (1) of the Employment Rights Act before the Tribunal.
He was hired as a senior loans clerk on February 15, 2004, and then by letter dated July 12, 2007, he was offered a position of loans supervisor retroactive November 1, 2006.
After nearly ten years with the credit union, his employer terminated him on December 31, 2013, advising him that his position as loans supervisor within the organizational structure was being made redundant.
The tribunal comprised Drakes, Ulric Sealy and John Williams.
The credit union was represented by attorney and management consultant Dr Hensley Sobers, while attorney Leslie Trotman and her father, retired General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Sir Roy Trotman, appeared on behalf of Bascombe.