President of the Sugar Industries and Staff Association (SISA) Edwin O’Neal has lambasted the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) Limited for the management of its recent retrenchment exercise.
In a fiery press conference this morning, O’Neal accused the BAMC of being disrespectful to the union during negotiations.
The BAMC recently took a decision to send home 46 workers as part of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
However, O’Neal accused the BAMC’s general manager Leslie Parris of failing to meet with SISA, as well as failing to give the union the necessary information required to allow it to make informed decisions.
He charged that SISA had also written to the BAMC on numerous occasions, but had gotten no responses.
O’Neal, who is also president of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), furthermore accused the BAMC of failing to follow the last-in first-out rule, and of ignoring the rule which spoke to not sending home two persons of the same household.
He said as a result of the BAMC’s approach, SISA had written to the Chief Labour Officer declaring a dispute between the two entities.
“It is clear that the BAMC is disrespectful to this union, disrespectful to customs and practice and we would even go to say disrespectful to the Prime Minister.
“We are now satisfied that the BAMC has targeted and attempted to decapitate the leadership of this union and that cannot be allowed in Barbados in 2019…” the irate president said.
“SISA was left with no option but to declare a dispute between itself and BAMC and invite the Chief Labour Officer to intervene in an attempt at conciliation.”
O’Neal charged that even when the Chief Labour Officer intervened and set a January 30 date for the two parties to meet, the BAMC failed to show up.
But the SISA president said despite the BAMC’s unacceptable behaviour, the union was still willing to have a sit down. He however, warned that once SISA had exhausted all of its efforts in reaching an amicable solution, further action would then be taken.
“Even at this late stage I am not going to be guilty of what I have accused the other side of. I am still going to follow process.
“I have alerted the Chief Labour Officer as to how we feel about the matter and I am going to exhaust all legal, lawful, time-honoured and accepted practices, but there comes a time when that process is exhausted,” Oneal stated.
“I have to be responsible, not only as the leader of SISA, but also as the president of CTUSAB. It is regrettable that the BAMC in the person of the general manager Parris and his acolytes, do not bring that level of responsibility that ought to attend these levels of discussions and be aware of his status in the nation.”
General Secretary of CTUSAB Dennis DePeiza was also on hand to support SISA, and accused the BAMC of “bad faith bargaining”.
“As you are well aware CTUSAB has constantly placed in the public’s domain, the continued disrespect and disregard that we have had for the industrial relations process as cited in this case with the BAMC.
“What is really of concern is the bad faith bargaining that has been reflected in this instance and whereas SISA has operated above board, have sought to do the correct things, we have found at the end of the day, the BAMC, though they may have started the process, violated the process with impunity,” Depeiza said.