Industrial unrest is intensifying at the state-owned Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC), as the National Union of Public Workers delivers a fresh ultimatum to management.
NUPW Acting Deputy General Secretary Wayne Walrond has told management that it has another “couple of weeks” to respond to its proposals on a wide range of concerns to avoid the union stepping up to undisclosed industrial action.
Walrond told Barbados TODAY this afternoon: “We are waiting on a meeting… and it is causing unrest among workers. We hope that that would be very soon.”
He said BADMC management has asked for time to take the union’s proposals to the board of directors for discussion before the two sides could start negotiations on a fresh collective agreement.
Asked how long the union was willing to wait, Walrond replied: ”Within a reasonable time. If within the next couple of weeks we can’t meet around the table, we would have to see how we can advance the matter. I wouldn’t say directly what we intend to do, but if within the next couple of weeks we can’t have this meeting, we would have to determine what strategy to engage.
“[Industrial action] is always a tool that unions can’t rule out. It is not a first option, but it is something that unions could never rule out. The whole idea of taking action for the pursuance of a dispute if we declare there is a dispute… and people use their collective power to draw attention to have their issues addressed; that is always a possibility.”
The proposals centre around a need for a new collective agreement, the union boss said.
“It would contain things like the hours of work, sick leave policy, vacation leave, disciplinary action, grievance procedure; it would speak to probation, pensions and promotion policies,” Walrond told Barbados TODAY.
He accused the BADMC of seemingly bent on trying to move away from proper industrial relations practices in recent years but said the union wants to return to the bargaining table to work out a collective agreement.
But the acting deputy general secretary said morale at the corporation has hit rock bottom in an environment where he claimed the rights of employees were being eroded.
“We still want to sit down with the corporation. The corporation over the years has moved away from a relationship with NUPW where it is more like they are trying to set their own terms and conditions… but we are insisting we want to get around the table and have a collective agreement in place. I think that is one of our greatest battles,” Walrond said.
He added another issue is how decisions were being implemented at the farm production and marketing board.
The NUPW official told Barbados TODAY the workers fear that the BADMC human resources department seemed more interested in making decisions to their disadvantage instead of trying to empower them to feel a part of the organization.
“They are not happy with the state of affairs…they feel their rights are being undermined and the management is seemingly looking at ways to reduce whatever benefits they enjoy or terms and conditions they enjoy. So they are not happy generally and there is low morale at the BADMC.”
Management of the corporation could not be reached for comment.