With tensions worsening between the Sugar Industries and Staff Association (SISA) and the Barbados Agricultural Management Co Ltd (BAMC), the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) is calling for heads to roll at the statutory organisation.
In fact, CTUSAB wants the removal of BAMC board chairman Winston Best contending that the board has disrespected and disregarded the industrial relations process, as it relates to the organisation’s retrenchment under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
Speaking to reporters this morning at a press conference convened at CTUSAB’s Garrison headquarters, president of the umbrella trade union body Edwin O’neal contended that the prolonged standoff spoke volumes of the chairman’s qualifications to lead the statutory board.
“This now calls into question the qualification of members of boards of state-owned organisations and in particular the chairman. The congress feels sufficiently strongly about this, that we are prepared to call for the removal of the chairman of BAMC or any other chairman who comes to a public corporation with this engrained hostility and disrespect to the labour movement,” O’neal said.
“The nation needs a sensible, sensitive and intelligent labour movement now more than ever in our history… It is hurtful that persons would behave in this way. The trade unions and CTUSAB, being the voice of labour, have to take a stand and we will continue to speak out to bring those of such ilk to a Christian understanding,” O’neal said. “It is regrettable that a trade union finds itself in a battle with the board of an SOE, who by every utterance and behaviour, demonstrates that it is not prepared to recognize the institutions that have been part of the Barbadian landscape.”
Also present at the press briefing, president of SISA Dwight Miller, charged that the BAMC board continues to flout the industrial relations protocol, despite two attempts at mediation, one chaired by the Chief Labour Officer and the other by Minister of Labour Colin Jordan. He charged that after being a no-show in the first meeting convened by the Chief Labour Officer, the representatives of the BMC board, in the very next meeting, made it clear that the matter was closed and that there was no need for further discussion.
“The Chief Labour Officer tried to bring the parties together to have a settlement but to our amazement, as opposed to a discussion around the table, it turned out to be an attack on the Chief Labour Officer. It was said that the Chief Labour Officer had no right to convene the meeting,” explained Miller.
Barbados TODAY made several attempts to contact Best as well as the Chief Labour Officer but was unsuccessful.
However, Miller told reporters that at this point the matter seemed destined for the Employments Rights Tribunal, even though the association was hoping that this course of action could have been avoided.
“SISA has tried to have this matter resolved through all of the industrial relations practices to avoid having to go to arbitration but at no point did the BAMC seek to have dialogue. It is with a heavy heart that we have to say that all attempts at a settlement have basically gone on deaf ears and it is looking as though the matter would be heading for the Employment Rights Tribunal,” he stressed. [email protected]