Talks on layoffs at the Rural Development Commission (RDC), which only a few days ago seemed destined for a showdown with this island’s oldest trade union, now appear on course for resolution.
Following a meeting with RDC workers at the commission’s Bridgetown office, the retired general secretary of the Barbados Workers Union, Sir Roy Trotman – now a union consultant – told reporters that it appears that workers will now be consulted on the retrenchment exercise, as is required by the Employment Rights Act.
“The management is aware of the concerns, the chairman, who was at the meeting, indicated quite clearly that he understood what we were saying. We believe that he expects us to have further meetings and we would hope that when we meet again we would be able to meet the wishes and expectations of the Prime Minister in trying to deal with BERT [Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation] Programme as urgently as possible but we also believe that he understands that it has to be done in a manner to cause as little disruption,” said Sir Roy.
Based on talks with the workers, which lasted just over an hour this morning, a number of issues were ironed out as a matter of urgency before the job cuts could begin, he said.
“There are some concerns which the workers have and we will express those concerns in writing to the leadership of the RDC. Hopefully we can meet again very shortly so that those matters can be discussed. We will in that case be looking at whether voluntary separation packages will be worked out,” he said.
Sir Roy doubled down on his previously stated opposition to abandoning the ‘last-in-first-out’ process of retrenchment.
Following a meeting with the RDC’s top management on Monday, Sir Roy made it clear that he did not take kindly to the tone of the RDCs letter of October 25, setting October 31 as the workers’ last day on the job.
The veteran trade unionist said that the BWU was simply ignoring the correspondence, which called for the dismissal of 20 workers.
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 expressed concern that other state-owned corporations may appear to be adopting this approach to the retrenchments, the latest being the Transport Board, the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and another, unnamed agency whose workers 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.