Below is a statement by General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, Dennis De Peiza.
The retrenchment of workers at the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Limited (BAMC), is actively engaging the attention of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).
CTUSAB is dismayed to learn that despite a commitment made by the BAMC to the Sugar Industries Staff Association (SISA) to continue discussions on the retrenchment exercise, when the parties last met on 19 December 2018, the discussions were arbitrarily halted, and followed with the issuance of letters of retrenchment to employees of the company.
CTUSAB observes that despite the haste to conclude negotiations, these have continued unabated and since concluded with the Barbados Workers Union.
In representing the interest of its member unit, SISA representatives of CTUSAB met with the Hon. Colin E. Jordan, Minister of Labour and Social Partners Relations on Friday, 28 December 2018, to discuss matters of concern to SISA, specifically related to breaches on the part of the BAMC in completing the retrenchment process.
In attendance at this meeting were the Hon. Indar Weir, Minister of Agricultural Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Leslie Parris, General Manager, BAMC, Mr. Victor Felix, Chief Labour Officer and Mr. Wayne Sobers of the Labour Department.
The Sugar Industries Staff Association contend that the BAMC has acted in bad faith in arbitrarily concluding the discussions, failed in following the principle of Last in -First Out in the retrenchment process, not being transparent in the exercise, being insensitive in the administration of the retrenchment exercise, and failing to disclose and provide relevant information that would assist the discussions, understandings and decision-making process between the two parties.
CTUSAB chides the BAMC for its action of non-disclosure of information, as this has repeatedly stymied the capacity of SISA to meaningfully participate in discussions and decision making.
In light of the above, CTUSAB expects that as is the customary practice, there will be a return to the status quo ante, whereby affected employees would remain on the job until the final determinations are made.
In anticipation of further layoffs under the government’s retrenchment programme, CTUSAB anticipates that Article 6.13 (g) will be observed.
“If after the required consultation, retrenchment is unavoidable, then the termination of employees shall be based on the principle of ‘Last In -Fist Out’, so that all employees with seniority in the service shall have precedence over an employee with seniority in a particular job category of the bargaining unit (where applicable) in which the terminations will occur….”
In the hope of reaching an agreement with SISA, CTUSAB is prepared at this stage, to respect the intervention of the Labour Minister, but is concerned at the length of time it is taking for him to deliberate.