Barbados Water Authority (BWA) workers have declared they want to see chairperson Leodeane Worrell gone.
But while accusing the board of meddling in personnel matters at the state-owned water utility, the union is urging its members to hold strain.
Following a two-hour meeting with employees at the company’s Pine headquarters this morning, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Senator Toni Moore told reporters that she has informed them that the union does not support their call at this stage.
The union boss said she wanted to give a renewed policy commitment made by the board at a marathon meeting yesterday time to work.
The commitment was made during a near ten-hour meeting in which the BWU, the board and Minister of Water Resources Management Wilfred Abrahams discussed a number of grievances, including the board’s dismissal of Human Resources Director Jacqueline Belgrave last Friday.
Senator Moore said: “Coming out of our meeting yesterday, the union is very clear…. Our position was two things: reinstatement and recommitment. Where the board was unable to do things and follow procedures and policies, then that may have been our position.
“But there has been the commitment.”
She said the union was at pains to go through the various protocols and communications with the BWA.
“So at this point in time… and I emphasize at this point in time, [Worrell’s resignation] is not our position,” the BWU leader told reporters.
She also insisted that the HR director’s dismissal had nothing to do with Belgrave as an individual but was a matter of policy.
“The Barbados Workers’ Union called for the reinstatement of the HR director who had been terminated, not because the workers’ union could speak for her as a member but because the situation which led to her termination really spoke to everything else we had been addressing for the last six months.
“So it was not about the HR director in her person. It was a policy grievance that addressed a number of the fallouts, complaints and the fraction that there has been in the employment relations here at the Barbados Water Authority.”
But the union boss blamed the “direct intrusion of the board” of the water authority for the breakdown in industrial relations including the dismissal of the HR director.
The decision to reinstate Belgave with immediate effect was now up to her to accept, Senator Moore added.
Minister of Water Resources Management Wilfred Abrahams has acknowledged that the board led by Worrell has been trying to run the utility’s daily affairs directly, a responsibility designated for the general manager Keithroy Halliday to carry out.
Abrahams told Barbados TODAY in a statement late Sunday night that the approach adopted by the board had been causing fractures in relations between staff and even the BWU.
He said: “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.”
The Minister said that the board has recommitted to allowing the 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.
Senator Moore also made it clear that if the board had not recommitted itself to following the proper procedures, the union too, would have supported the workers’ demands for the chairman to quit.
Ever since taking up her post in May, 2018, Worrell has dealt with a number of serious water outages or shortages in the northern and eastern parts of the island.
But Worrell’s supporters claim she has stuck to the task of trying to restore the financial fortunes of the BWA and improve its service to the Barbadian public.
When asked tonight by Barbados TODAY to comment on the call by BWA staff for her to resign, Worrell replied: “No thank you.”