Some 80 employees of the state-owned Barbados Water Authority (BWA) are reported to have opted for voluntary separation packages under the Government’s restructuring programme.
Although this number has not been confirmed by the employees’ bargaining agent – the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) – its General Secretary Senator Toni Moore said today she was expected to be provided with the final list this afternoon.
Up to the time of publication, Barbados TODAY was unable to get the final official number of those volunteering to go home.
However, following a meeting this morning with staff of the water works company at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters, Senator Moore said the 75 employees who have already been identified for retrenchment, has not changed.
While spokesman for the BWA and its industrial relations consultant John Williams declined to comment, a source close to the company informed Barbados TODAY that Communications Manager and head of the Rapid Response Unit Joyann Haigh, along with the director of projects, the financial comptroller and the director of procurement are among those likely to be retrenched.
Earlier today, Senator Moore told reporters that every department has been impacted by the layoffs which should be completed by the end of this week
“It is likely, as you refine processes and so on for efficiency that it would lead to further displacement, but this initial step, we are very hopeful that this would constitute the bulk of the impact to staff. So we had to advice workers that because our discussions took as long as they did, that the uncomfortable reality is, that given the board’s objective of having the workers exit by the end of the month that the time frame now is very small,” she said.
The union boss said that she therefore expects that workers would be approached in the next couple of days to be told of their fate.
“We have learnt from the Authority, that they have put out for voluntary separation only on Monday afternoon and as you would appreciate this is Wednesday morning. So up until now, they have received a number of requests for voluntary separation that they would have to consider. We had to explain to the workers that because a person has opted for voluntary separation, it does not mean they will be separated,” Moore pointed out.
She explained that the company still has to consider it must continue to function the day after the employees are gone. The union leader said some of those volunteering may be key persons who the company would need.
Senator Moore said the workers expressed optimism that the decisions taken so far by BWA would take the state enterprise where it needs to go so it could avoid further disruptions.
“We have been sure not to hide from them the possibility that there can be further fallout, which obviously means that there is an acceptance that for a while, at least for the next year or so, there will be a level of uncertainty,” added the BWU general secretary.
In light of this, she said the union was committed to working with employees to ensure they can do their best in changed circumstances to make sure that the current initiatives yield the kind of results that would see fewer employees impacted.
With respect to the workers’ entitlements, Senator Moore gave the assurance that they would have in their hands severance, money in lieu of notice, vacation pay and other monies owed when they are leaving.