General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), Toni Moore, has denied reports that her union and the management of the Transport Board are at a standoff in talks on a second round of layoffs at the state-run bus company .
After the workers met with the Prime Minister at the BWU’s Solidarity House headquarters, Moore said that the negotiations which began in January, have only dealt with the temporary layoff of bus drivers, as drivers significantly outnumber the bus fleet.
Moore told Barbados TODAY: “Discussions continue at the level of the directors of the Transport Board and the union. It has been public knowledge that there is a concern about the number of units on the road vis-`a-vis the number of operators available. So, everyone is aware that discussions have started for a few weeks now on the issue of operators, particularly short-term layoffs.
“As those discussions are ongoing, there has been a wider perspective being put out there of larger numbers that would be falling at the Transport Board. That discussion has not commenced yet.”
With Government’s financial lifeline to the Transport Board to be cut at month-end and no money left to pay the current staff, concerns are mounting at Weymouth about the pace of talks with the union over a second round of layoffs.
A Transport Board source close to the talks has told Barbados TODAY that after two months of meetings, neither the union nor the cash-strapped bus service was budging from their respective positions. With the financial year ending on March 31, time is running out on a deal before the corporation runs out of funding to pay the 560 workers.
The source said: “We don’t have a choice but to reach an agreement by March 31 because if there is no agreement with the union, we would have to lay off the people anyway because there would be no money to pay them. You can’t have people working for you if you can’t pay them.”
Moore revealed that her union was still awaiting the Transport Board’s vision for the organisation. She said that she was not ruling out the possibility of additional workers aside from the drivers being cut, though she insisted that no such determination has been made as yet.
Moore said: “We are still in the stage where we are still in discussion with the board and awaiting a full presentation of the board’s vision for the Transport Board. Once we have that we will be able to go into a fuller discussion. We are not saying that other workers will not be impacted but that determination has not yet been made.”