As public workers continue to receive their walking papers, their bargaining agent, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), has issued a strong warning to the Mia Mottley administration regarding its selection process.
The BWU has also ignored a deadline given by the management of the Rural Development Commission (RDC) to lay off 20 workers.
Consultant and former General Secretary of the union Sir Roy Trotman, who met with the RDC’s top management on Monday, did not take kindly to the tone of a letter dated October 25 and sent to the workers, setting October 31 as they last day on the job.
Sir Roy told Barbados TODAY on Tuesday the union took exception to the short period allowed for proper consultation on behalf of the affected workers.
He is concerned other state owned corporations appear to be adopting this approach to the retrenchments, the latest being the Transport Board, the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and one other whose workers he said received termination letters today.
“In all three cases they are talking in terms of having an abbreviated consultation exercise and that is a major source of concern for us. If the law says you should do something, we are of the view that you should follow the law. Especially since the person who is going to suffer is a worker who is going to lose his income, his job, his livelihood, maybe his future,” Sir Roy said.
He told the Government it cannot take short cuts.
BWU General Secretary Toni Moore cautioned government the union would not stand idly by and watch it use flawed criteria to retrench workers.
“The BWU is not going to allow Government now to turn to past deficiencies or misdemeanours to select employees for retrenchment, not without insisting that employees be given reasonable opportunities to answer charges relating to work performance or to conduct,” Moore said in a statement from Geneva where she is attending an International Labour Organization conference.
She continued, “To date, the retrenchment exercise in the public sector has not impacted large numbers of BWU members directly. However, even where there have been a few impacts to our constituents, the union has been concerning itself with the way in which the process has been handled, or dare I say, mishandled.
She also told the Government that the last-in first-out (LIFO) policy, agreed on by the Social Partnership, must be applied in the current retrenchment exercise except where it could be shown that its use compromised the retention of existing skills not found elsewhere in the public sector.
Moore noted that while the layoffs were ongoing, the union has been preoccupied with gathering information from its displaced members on their skills and interests to see how they can benefit from anticipated opportunities in the shortest possible time.
“Our issue therefore is not with what was done, but rather the way it was done, particularly since the approach to the retrenchment exercise to date has not been consistent with what was agreed at the level of the Social Partnership during our meetings,” she added.
Using the Employment Rights Act as her reference, the union leader placed the political directorate on notice that it will ensure retrenchment talks with the SOEs are guided by the provisions of that Act.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) meanwhile will be meeting on Wednesday with all retrenched employees it represents to update them and get feedback from them on their concerns and experiences.
The BWU will be meeting with RDC workers on Thursday.