War of words
There is too much controversy at the National Cultural Foundation, says the National Union of Public Workers.
Acting Deputy General Secretary of the trade union, Roslyn Smith, told Barbados TODAY that they were prepared to take their fight to the Labour Department after the latest issue surfaced today at the state agency.
“We have a whole series of matters that we sent to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and we have not had that meeting as yet. That was since the 27th of July this letter was sent outlining the issues pertaining to permanent appointments in established positions, harassment of the telephone operator, the current appraisal system, establishment of long standing posts, the recent termination of a staff member who worked on contract for 10 years, the removal of staff from the top floor when board meetings are being held, and the honorarium that they have not [honoured] to date … There is a series of issues,” she said.
The NUPW official said the matters have been ongoing since March this year and to date there has been no response from them “although the CEO would have been written letters to meet”.
“There’s a been a stalemate there and the next place we might be taking these issues is probably referring them to the Labour Department. Boards seem to me to be more of a hindrance than a help. There is too much controversy before Crop-Over, during Crop-Over and after Crop-Over. There needs to be some resolution to the workers’ problems.
“There are grievance procedures and as far as I’m concerned procrastination of sitting and trying to resolve the workers’ issues can only lead to some kind of discontent and mistrust among them and management,” Smith said in the interview via telephone.
She was elaborating on a press release sent today in which the trade union expressed its dissatisfaction at the failure of the NCF to meet its obligation of ensuring that staff received their salaries, which were due today.
The deputy general secretary said it was a “bitter pill to swallow” and there would be consequences to the workers’ livelihoods.
“Given these economic times, people have legitimate expectations to be paid today. By law the dates are published and therefore you should seek to honour such dates.”
In the release she explained that it was “customary that cheques be prepared and deposited three working days in advance. As a result of the late signing of these cheques, employees are now unable to access this money into their accounts until Tuesday next week.
“It is unfortunate that this turn of events follows immediately after the hard work of these same employees during what has been termed a successful Crop-Over season.”
In relation to the late payment, she noted that it was disrespectful to the workers and a “proper explanation should be given”.
“They [workers] now have to forego today, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and hope that by Tuesday they will get their money and that changes the landscape of their arrangement. If we are given an audience we will draw it to their attention; failing that, as I said, we will have to draw the matter to the Labour Department.”
In a statement issued late this evening, the NCF has “advised that there was a delay in the payment of staff salaries this month as a result of problems experienced with its computerised payroll system”.
The foundation further stated that the fault was rectified and the lodgments have since been sent off to the respective commercial banks for processing. An official of the NCF also pointed out that this was the first time a delay occurred and stressed that salaries are paid on time every month. (DS)