Employees of the finance department of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) have complained to their trade union of feeling unduly harassed by the authority’s leadership.
This “reasonable” belief prompted the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) General Secretary Toni Moore to request an urgent meeting with BWA’s management.
A letter, dated January 18, 2019, and addressed to BWA’s General Manager Keithroy Halliday, called for an urgent meeting to address the “existing disillusionment” felt by the staff in an effort to clear the way for the restoration of the trust and confidence that is [sic] very much needed at this time to assure the achievement of desired levels of efficiency at the authority.
“Among the grievances cited, is the fact that the members of the department have been criticized for submitting inadequate information without being advised specifically where there are deficiencies and where the adjustments are therefore required.
“Compounding this has been the ‘sledgehammer approach to crack a nut’, which is seemingly preferred by your management. The approach to have the chairman chide and reprimand your staff even before you, through your own efforts as General Manager, seek to determine why instructions from on high were not, or could not be executed, is unfortunate,” a copy of the letter which was acquired by Barbados TODAY read.
“Not only is such an approach excessive, oppressive and intimidating, but the involvement of the Board, the minister and consultants of the Government of Barbados under the circumstances is also indicative of a serious management and communication deficiency,” the letter continued.
The strongly-worded document also said that failing to properly communicate with staff to get to the bottom of issues but choosing instead to trivialize their illnesses and absences from work, might satisfy “your own misgivings”.
“However, perhaps unwittingly, it has created a negative working environment which denies both you and your employees the benefits of a positive work environment, especially at a time where we should be desperate to accelerate recovery from the recent retrenchment exercise,” the letter continued.
The letter also outlined that the BWU hoped that the authority’s management would consider the benefits of a meeting with the union to fully develop and address these and other concerns, instead of “your open contemplation to have the staff of this department meet with your Board in circumstances where, understandably, they regard themselves as being under threat”.
“It is hoped that such basic labour management relations issues would not have to escalate beyond where already, quite unnecessarily, it has been taken by you,” it said.
It was proposed that the meeting be held on Wednesday 23 January 2019, at 9:30 a.m. at BWU’s Solidarity House.
When asked if he was aware of the letter which outlined the employees’ concerns, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams told Barbados TODAY that he preferred not to make a comment on the matter.
The minister however requested that Barbados TODAY communicate with BWA’s chairman Leodean Worrell, who could not be reached. Efforts to contact the authority’s General Manager Keithroy Halliday, and BWU’s General Secretary also proved futile.
However, when reached president of the BWA division of the BWU, Carl Boyce, told Barbados TODAY that the meeting between the union and the authority’s management was indeed held and “all concerns” were resolved.
“That meeting took place and everything was settled and everything went in the workers’ favour. Everything is normal. The workers and the union are satisfied that everything is all right now. We had a lengthy two-hour meeting and everything was resolved,” Boyce assured.