The state-run Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is shutting down one of its three radio stations as the company prepares to retrench 78 workers from across all departments by the end of this month.
Following talks today between management, staff and the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) at CBC’s Pine, St Michael studios, Special Adviser to the BWU Sir Roy Trotman told reporters that radio station 94.7 FM will be closed while announcing that 38 fewer employees will be retrenched than the original 116 proposed.
Sir Roy also noted that an additional 17 workers had agreed to accept voluntary separation packages.
He said that during negotiations with the corporation, the union accepted its position that the CBC is not currently a viable undertaking and it therefore needed to cut staff in order to facilitate growth.
“We have thought to go along with the CBC in the hope that we could rebuild it and then move ahead on a sounder footing…and on that basis, we have managed to get down the involuntary separations which were intended to be 116, and those involuntary separations have gone down now to almost to late in the 70s. Some of that has been brought about because of voluntary retirements of course,” he said.
Sir Roy, a retired general secretary of the BWU, told reporters that when the union met with the staff, they were advised to scrutinize the list of those going home to ensure it reflects the last-in first-out policy agreed to by both parties.
He said the BWU also told the employees they must check the list for those with special skills and if they found hardship cases, both the union and CBC should be informed.
“Because there are institutions which the Prime Minister has put in place to deal with those hardship cases to make sure that we don’t get destitute persons or destitute homes resulting from the programme that she has had to embark upon,” the veteran trade unionist stressed.
Sir Roy said the union had been making staff aware that there will be temporary job opportunities being made available at the CBC as well as for contract arrangements and casual labour.
“We are not putting that forward as viable alternatives, but we have been having to explain what the possibilities are for everybody,” he said, adding that lots of the workers are still worried about what their termination would mean for their families, their mortgages and the resulting pain.
Sir Roy said the BWU has therefore offered to help the retrenched staff in any way it can to mitigate the losses taking place.
The union adviser noted that every department will be affected by the retrenchments and he listed for example, the television department, 94.7FM radio, the production division and News and Current Affairs.
He revealed that the other radio stations will be restructured.
Sir Roy said even though the union had been able to get CBC to reduce the original number of retrenched employees, he was still not happy with the current level.
“Still not as much as we should have liked because anybody who is leaving work at a time like this is in a position that brings some level of precariousness into that person’s household,” he lamented, adding that some workers have already gone home, while certain others have expressed a desire to leave tomorrow.
He is of the view that those leaving should part ways in as smooth and hospitable a manner as possible and refrain from “burning any bridges”.