While the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Limited (BAMC) and the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) have settled on the numbers to be retrenched from the state-owned entity, other trade unions are today voicing discontentment.
Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) is accusing the BAMC of negotiating in bad faith with its member organisation, the Sugar Industries Staff Association (SISA).
“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,” in a statement released by the CTUSAB’s General Secretary, Dennis De Peiza.
De Peiza further charged that as recently as December 28, 2018, SISA held a meeting with Minister of Labour Colin Jordan and Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir to discuss breaches in the BAMC retrenchment process. According to head of the umbrella body, those matters, which include, failure to adhere to the principle of last in first out, have not been resolved.
“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,” he said, adding that the BAMC “failed to disclose and provide relevant information that would assist the discussions between the two parties.”
While not stating if CTUSAB intends to take any action against the BAMC, De Peiza stated “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”
Earlier this week, general manager of the state-owned BAMC Leslie Parris revealed that 46 workers will be sent home as Government continued its retrenchment in the public sector, which began late last year. The disclosure came after almost two hours of negotiations with the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) at the company’s Warrens, St Michael headquarters.
“We are talking about approximately 42 to 46 persons or in that range. These touch all of the areas of the company’s operations in terms of the members of the BWU. These would include mechanics, drivers and support staff who, given the future of the company, would no longer be required,” Parris disclosed.
He was however quick to point out that field workers would not be touched in the current retrenchment process.
“Let me stress that field workers, those out in the field working daily with the crops, would not be retrenched,” the BAMC boss added.
He explained that if Government were to send home those workers, it would have to invest substantial sums of money in acquiring equipment to replace them.
“We do not consider it prudent at this time to undertake such an investment because the manual labour in the fields is still considered to be more efficient than using equipment,” Parris said.