Despite “cordial” discussions taking place between the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and Management of Rotherley Construction Inc. over the retrenchment of dozens of workers, there’s no word on when workers will be paid for work already completed.
BWU Deputy General Secretary, Dwaine Paul was speaking to Barbados TODAY in light of Monday’s protests by retrenched workers at the Proutes, St Thomas property of Allen Evelyn, the construction company’s CEO.
While he said the protest could not be considered industrial action because the masons, carpenters and laborers were no longer employed, Paul said it was understandable especially considering workers still had no word on their outstanding money.
“From a union standpoint we can understand that once workers are not paid, their financial situations can become dire immediately… We know that working people do not have that latitude to withstand not being paid. We understand that they went and made their representation to the management as it relates to their funds, but I can’t say it’s industrial action because the workers at this stage have been laid off and given papers to take to the national insurance,” he said.
Paul however added that the construction company had been in discussions with the union for some time about financial difficulties, which the company was experiencing.
“We were advised that the company urgently needed to make some changes to its operations and based on that, we had a number of meetings.
“We were informed that the course of action would be to layoff some workers and the company would have held a meeting with workers last Friday. The company is experiencing some financial issues in relation to cash flow and efforts were being made to free up the cash flow to meet wage commitments,” said Paul.
Unfortunately Paul could not comment on how soon the upset workers would be paid, but said stakeholders were discussing the matter “practically now on a daily basis”…to understand how those efforts are progressing and to secure a date in terms of when all outstanding monies will be paid to the workers.
“I don’t want to give a date, because we committed to the workers that once we have an exact date, we would get back to them, because the last thing we want to tell workers is that they would be paid on Thursday and then realize Thursday it’s not a go. There is discussion about dates, but we are only going to be communicating dates where there is absolute surety.
“We have also had discussions with other third parties who are interested in the situation as well, all in an effort to have the workers paid their outstanding wages at the nearest possible opportunity.
“From a labor perspective, we have all the documentation relating to the matter, we have had cordial discussions, not only with them but with third parties involved in the situation and are trying to broker a position as fast as we can in terms of treating to the outstanding payments for the workers.”
At the same time, Paul said Rotherley Construction was also working to have some workers reemployed after the company’s financial woes had been resolved.
“This includes discussions on the terms of future employment for some of those who will be displaced and how many would be able to be redeployed to other jobs that are going on,” he said.