No jobs are to be cut when Goverment eventually awards a 30-year management contract for the nation’s lone airport, Grantley Adams International to a private operator.
This was one of the major decisions taken during a meeting between the workers’ bargaining agent, National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the current airport management, the state-owned GAIA Inc.
But Goverment has not yet chosen the new concessionaire, leaving doubt as to whether the agreement between union and current management would be enforceable with a privately owned management firm.
NUPW president Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY that while this was a good first step towards allaying workers’ fears, there was still quite a bit of uncertainty about the transition.
McDowall said: “We were told that all of the staff would be transferred into the new entity and that there would be no job losses.
“We were also assured that they would be transferred with all of their terms and conditions as well as years of service.
“So, for example, the 4.5 per cent increase that the workers just got would also be transferred to the new entity and the same goes for the number of sick leave days and pension benefits.
“All of these things would be under the new management structure.”
But the NUPW leader noted there was still some anxiety among staff as they have no idea who their new bosses are going to be and what changes they might have in mind for the airport’s organisational structure. McDowall said that recently the NUPW has received similar assurances which did not materialize.
He said: “Workers are still anxious because there is still this fear of the unknown, we are dealing with a new management and you don’t know what their thinking is.
“Certainly, the union does not have all of the information that it would really like to have.
“There are still some things that we still need to find out about the structure that is being proposed and once we find out those things then we can determine what the implications are going to be going forward.”
But McDowall also acknowledged that with no decision yet been made on the concessionaire, raising questions as to whether the deal to protect jobs would last into the new public-private partnership to run the airport.
He said: “At this point we have received as much information as possible, what we can and will do is meet with the workers so that we can really flesh out what their additional concerns are.
“There is only a certain level of assurance that this administration can give to the union. When we transfer to the new company we don’t know what plans they have.
“The union was given that same assurance at Harrison’s Cave but yet under the new management structure the decision was taken to let go some of the staff.”
Following the decision by the Goverment to outsource the operation and management of Grantley Adams International Airport, via a 30-year private-public partnership (PPP), 14 companies expressed their interest.
A tender process is scheduled for later this year, with the selection of a suitable candidate expected in the third quarter of this year. The plan is to have the new operator in place by early 2021.
The Goverment is seeking a concession partner that can inject $400 million into the project; about $100 million in the initial stage and another $300 million over the lifetime of the concession which is to run until 2051.