Layoffs at the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) have been placed on hold, but management has agreed to pay workers the five per cent salary increase which, it was earlier revealed, they were not entitled to.
These were two of the main issues emerging this afternoon from some four hours of talks between the employees’ bargaining agent, the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and, management of the CBC at the Pine, St Michael studios.
Regarding the retrenchments, special advisor and former General Secretary of the BWU, Sir Roy Trotman said that matter was not discussed because the established process was not followed by the CBC.
Sir Roy told Barbados TODAY the layoffs, which were expected to take place by the end of last month, have been put on hold pending the outcome of a meeting next week to specifically address the issue.
He said after the state-run broadcaster and the union had first concluded talks on a number of outstanding matters such as salary increases and increments, its management officially informed him it was restructuring.
“We made the suggestion to them they should in fact follow more closely the provisions within the Employment Rights Act, and particularly the understanding that we have arrived at regarding the protocol of the Social Partnership,” he said.
“The CBC was very conscious that that is something which may not have been done exactly how it should be done. So they agreed that they would hold fire and have further discussions on it among themselves. And we have agreed to come back at 2.30 [pm] on Monday to start looking at the question of rationalization,” Sir Roy added.
Asked if the terminations had therefore been put on hold he replied: “Yes. That is what the position is right now.”
He also said the two sides have not yet talked about how many of the estimated 260 workforce have been earmarked to go home. “We have not started that discussion in any way whatsoever,” the BWU special advisor stressed.
But while the retrenchment talks had gone nowhere, Sir Roy reported better news for all staff with respect to outstanding pay.
“The meeting today was not just a question where we discussed just layoffs, we also looked at the matter of some outstanding issues. We had to deal with the matter of the outstanding five per cent. We also had to deal with the matter of outstanding increments, which was a matter that we stood up outside here at CBC for last year…and we have reached agreement on those two matters,” the former general secretary told Barbados TODAY.
He noted that the major question left is whether the monies would be paid in cash or bonds. “But we will have that as an ongoing discussion,” Sir Roy said.
He was also asked about his meeting yesterday with the Transport Board which is to undertake a full restructuring in phases that involves layoffs as well.
“The Transport Board yesterday put a proposal…very specific proposal regarding laying off about 50 persons or so. These are persons who received letters of appointment sometime in April of this year. We have to meet those workers and discuss the matter with them, possibly on Monday,” he revealed.
Sir Roy told Barbados TODAY the board management then spoke generally about its plans going forward over the next few years.
He said the board’s plans would constitute a full paper which will be presented overtime.
Sir Roy disclosed that the chairman of the board, Gregory Nicholls, will address a general meeting next week that includes the United Commercial Autoworks Limited (UCAL).
“And we are hoping that at that time, he will have some discussions which will allow UCAL to know, whether UCAL would be in a position to offer some of those people any work,” the special advisor to the BWU told Barbados TODAY.
He noted that in terms of specifics, the union only addressed those 50 workers who were appointed in April this year and are earmarked to be sent home.
But while Sir Roy said he was not aware of any other layoffs up to the time of this interview, Barbados TODAY received reports that management of the state-run Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), was in the process of retrenching some of the workers at the lone sugar factory at Portvale, St James.
There were reports that staff would be cut from 169 to 104.
General manager of the BAMC, Leslie Parris, told Barbados TODAY, this was all speculation.
“We don’t operate that way. We go through the process. As you are well aware, the Government has cut its budget to the SOE [state owned enterprises] and within that context, we have to look at the resizing of the operation. That process is underway now, and we have not made any decisions. Such decisions are made in consultations with the staff and the union,” Parris said.