Embattled General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Roslyn Smith could soon be headed to the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT) to have it adjudicate her claims of unfair dismissal by the NUPW.
Smith’s industrial relations advisor Senator Caswell Franklyn this afternoon served notice that the only option left now was to turn the dispute over to the tribunal following protracted talks at the Labour Department level, and the refusal of the union’s Executive Council to meet with Smith and her team.
“The Chief Labour Officer proposes to continue the conciliation. I see no benefit in that…it will serve no useful purpose. So I want the matter to go to the tribunal to let the tribunal decide,” Franklyn, who is General Secretary of the Unity Trade Union (UTU) told Barbados TODAY.
Asked if he had taken any action to have the case lodged with the ERT, the Opposition legislator replied: “The Chief Labour Officer (Claudette Hope-Greenidge) is the only person who can send it to the tribunal. But she wants to continue this talk shop nonsense. I am not minded to.”
“Roslyn [Smith] had proposed to meet with the council of the union; and we got a message through the Chief Labour Officer that the union has rejected that. So they don’t want to meet with us to discuss the matter,” the veteran trade union leader added.
When contacted, Acting General Secretary Delcia Burke admitted that the union’s council had in fact refused to meet with Smith and her team.
“Yes, it is true. They had asked for a meeting and the council said they had sent us a representative [at the level of the Labour Department] so it was not necessary,” Burke explained.
However, she insisted that the union’s delegation has been turning up to all of the meetings scheduled with the Chief Labour Officer.
“Every meeting that was agreed to…that was arranged, we went to,” Burke said.
The acting general secretary also addressed the reason for the long delay in reaching a settlement.
“The union is saying that she [Smith] retired when she reached the age that she agreed to [but] she is saying she was terminated. So we are at a standstill. We have been meeting with the Labour Department. We will continue to meet with them to see if we can come to a resolution,” she stated.
The union which Smith had served for 47 years announced in July last year, that it had retired her effective March 31, 2019 after an extension from October 1, 2018.
Smith, who had been a patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) from December 2018, to July 2019, had submitted a request for a leave extension in a letter dated March 15, 2019. At the time, union president Akanni McDowall said a decision on the matter should be deferred to the union’s incoming executive committee and national council.
However, in the NUPW’s statement in July, it was noted that Smith was given a previous extension and would now be retired.
“The NUPW announces that Roslyn Smith has retired after 47 years of service. Sister Smith’s retirement would have commenced on October 1, 2018. National Council decided to grant an extension of her employment to March 31, 2019,” the union’s statement said then.
Some five days after the union officially announced her retirement, Smith alleged unfair dismissal and is claiming close to half million dollars in compensation.
Persistent efforts to reach the Chief Labour Officer proved futile and when contacted Smith referred Barbados TODAY to Franklyn.