The senior staffer who was fired last Friday by the board of the state-owned Barbados Water Authority (BWA) will be reinstated with immediate effect.
Minister of Water Resources Management Wilfred Abrahams made the announcement last night following a near ten-hour meeting, which he chaired with representatives of the BWA’s board and the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU)
Minister Abrahams told Barbados TODAY in a statement that the meeting was called to address and resolve a number of outstanding issues that impacted on the relationship between the board, management and staff including the sudden dismissal of Director of Human Resources Management and Development Jacqueline Belgrave on Friday.
The Minister also stressed that the healing process had begun.
“The commitment was made to take this opportunity to reset the relations between the board, management and staff and to follow the processes that would lead to a healthy industrial relations climate within the Barbados Water Authority. In this regard, the decision has been taken to reinstate the Director of Human Resources Management and Development with immediate effect,” he declared.
“During the near ten-hour meeting, a number of grievances were fully ventilated, including the board’s direct interaction with the staff, protocols for communication and other matters. It was acknowledged that the board of the Barbados Water Authority had taken a hands-on approach to the management of the authority,” he reported.
He said the board felt this was necessary and warranted to bring stability to the operations of the waterworks state agency in light of a large number of critical matters and crises that faced the newly-constituted board.
“This approach, however, led to strained relationships with some members of staff as well as with the union. The realities of recent interactions and personnel matters were also discussed and the board acknowledged certain practices which resulted in discomfort to the staff, including the recent separation of the Director of Human Resources Management and Development,” he stated.
The Minister told Barbados TODAY that the board has recommitted to allow management structures to work in the way they were intended to and to observe the proper protocols governing internal matters as well as industrial relations going forward.
Abrahams also took time out to remind the board, management and staff of the need to recognize the state enterprise as one of the most critical institutions in Barbados.
“And this recognition must remain foremost in the minds of the members of the board, the members of management and the members of staff. A properly functioning and efficient Barbados Water Authority delivering on its mandate is critical to the future development of Barbados. The healing process has begun,” he added.
Yesterday’s meeting, which Abrahams chaired, came on the heels of a reported meeting between Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Attorney General Dale Marshall and Abrahams at Government Headquarters last Friday night to discuss the dismissal of the HR director.
No official reason has been given to date for the senior staffer’s termination, which came the same day she attended a meeting at the Labour Department to discuss unfair dismissal claims by two other senior employees – former Manager of the Waste Water Unit Patricia Inniss and ex-Financial Comptroller Lorna Mascoll. Those matters have been referred to the Employment Rights Tribunal for adjudication.
After workers at the BWA were informed by General Manager Keithroy Halliday of Belgrave’s termination by way of a notice to all staff, reports about threats to strike today quickly emerged.
However, the BWU later explained that it would hold an emergency meeting early this morning at the company with employees to address the development and that no industrial action would be taken at that point. (EJ)