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NUPW, airport reach pay hike deal

by Barbados Today
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Akanni McDowall

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the Grantley Adams International Airport have reached a deal to end a six-month dispute over the workers’ exclusion from the five per cent increase that Government granted public servants in 2018.

The workers have accepted management’s offer of 4.5 per cent, NUPW president Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY. The workers are also to be paid retroactively from May 2018.

The offer was put on the table just over a week ago by the airport’s management, but it was this afternoon that workers voted unanimously to ratify the agreement.

A triumphant McDowall declared that the deal demonstrates that trade unionism is alive and well and that the NUPW was still working hard on behalf of its members.

Following this afternoon’s meeting with staff at the GAIA conference room, he said: “This is indeed a good day for the union and a good day for the workers at the airport.

“This is just another example of the National Union of Public Workers fighting for its members.

“We still have more matters to deal with at other organisations but we are happy that we have been able to bring about resolution in this issue.”

When asked to describe how the workers felt about the deal, the NUPW president explained that the staff were happy to be getting their just due and finally putting the matter to rest.

McDowall said: “I can tell you that no one voted against the offer.

“I believe the workers are just happy to put this matter behind them so that they can continue with the good work that they have been doing.”

The deal ends a tense standoff in the airport’s labour relations that almost led to industrial action last August.

Then, the workers complained that they were being “discriminated” against with their exclusion from the five per cent increase.

At the time it was the unrest at the UWI Cave Hill Campus over this same issue that stoked the airport workers’ ire. A source revealed that workers, including custodial staff, security and engineers, were considering industrial action then.

The source said last year: “Government made the commitment to all public workers and all state-owned enterprises; nobody was excluded from the state-owned enterprises.

“The workers feel a sense of strong discrimination and are contemplating industrial action.

“The workers are angry and they have become even more irate after learning that there is a commitment to settle at the university.”

Back then, the airport management countered by pointing out that GAIA Inc is not a statutory corporation but under the Companies Act a firm that happens to be owned by Government.

Management declared that airport workers had received several increases over the last ten years, during a period when public servants received no pay hikes.

And as the airport plans to enter into private-public partnership to manage its operations, the workers were being asked to “hold strain” until that process is completed. colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

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