The near-800 workers at the state-run Barbados Water Authority (BWA) will soon start receiving a five per cent increase in their wages and salaries.
In making the announcement late last night following more than seven hours of talks with management at the BWA’s Pine, St Michael headquarters, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union Senator Toni Moore also revealed that agreement had been reached on how outstanding merit increments would be paid out as well.
“We’ve reached agreement on the five per cent increase being applied to staff of the water authority,” Senator Moore told reporters while flanked by special adviser and predecessor Sir Roy Trotman, president of the BWA’s union division Carl Boyce and other members of the workers’ delegation.
Two weeks ago, when Sir Roy led the union’s team to negotiations with management in the absence of the General Secretary who was overseas, he reported progress on pay talks including performance increments which go back about ten years.
“We are also looking at the matter of harmonization of scales and salary points where there have been variations over the period. There is also the question of application of the five per cent that the public service generally received with effect from April,” Sir Roy told Barbados TODAY back then.
However, when she spoke with reporters last night, Senator Moore did not spell out the details of the wage and salary raise or when workers would start seeing it in their pay packets.
In a separate statement issued two weeks ago, the BWA said the meeting with Sir Roy was cordial and covered a number of outstanding items, most of which arose out of an agreement settled between the last administration and the BWU in March 2016.
“These included among other matters, staff compensation, the provision for retroactive pay in relation to back pay for the periods 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 in relation to bargaining unit 1 and the period 2006/2007 through 2018/2019,” the statement said.
The company said that in addition to discussions on those long outstanding matters, there was consensus on the five per cent salary increase retroactive to April 2018.
“The meeting acknowledged that the BWA is not a contributor to the Severance Fund and therefore uniquely had to source funding for the in-cash payment of the severance.” the BWA’s press release confirmed.
As far as the outstanding increments are concerned, the BWU leader said last night that agreement had also been reached, but she did not say when that payout would take place.
“There was agreement reached two years ago on merit increments that were owed to staff. However, the implementation of those still had to be finalized especially at a time where the position of the management of the water authority has been that it cannot afford a payout of any large sum of money in cash,” said Senator Moore.
“So we have been working through the rudiments of how the agreement would be met…and I think that it is pretty safe to say following our discussions, that we have a clear position on that,” she added.
Turning her attention to the ongoing retrenchment of public officers as part of Government’s restructuring programme under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) plan, the BWU boss said the union and the BWA now have to meet again to thoroughly discuss the layoff issue.
“The context for the discussions has not been set, so determinations on numbers have not been made. What the Authority has signalled is that, like other state-owned enterprises, they would be looking first and foremost at the rudiments which have been established at the level of the Social Partnership. They have signalled an intention to look at voluntary separation,” she added.
Senator Moore said the water works company has also pledged to honour the last-in first-out policy when the issue is raised during follow-up negotiations.