Take them back!
by Emmanuel Joseph
The Barbados Workers Union is demanding that LIME withdraws its letters issued yesterday, making 97 employees redundant with immediate effect.
After a three-and-a-half-hour meeting this morning with all workers of the telecommunications company at Solidarity House, General-Secretary of the BWU, Sir Roy Trotman, also revealed additional contents of a letter dispatched this afternoon to Chief Executive Officer of LIME, Alex McDonald.
It insisted that he publicly apologises for attributing “poor customer service” to the decision to shut down its retail stores.
While accusing LIME of taking industrial action by breaching a mutual agreement not to do so while negotiations were still ongoing, Sir Roy said the union would take counter-action, if necessary.
However, as the non-terminated employees returned to their jobs following today’s session, the union boss made it clear he would respect the conciliation process under the chairmanship of Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, and still attend a scheduled meeting on Monday at 1 p.m. to continue pursuing a resolution.
“I read with surprise, your company’s letter of 2 January, 2013, indicating that you were discontinuing negotiations which were being held at domestic level, and that with immediate effect, you were terminating your so-called back office staff,” responded the union in its correspondence dispatched this afternoon.
“I am equally disappointed to see from your letter of the same date, January 2, 2013, that you wrote the minister of labour cutting short discussions relating to the retail staff at your stores and that you were making those persons redundant with immediate effect.”
The prominent trade unionist suggested that both of these actions contravened the terms of the collective agreement, as well as the commitment by both parties, to the minister, that neither side could, or should take any industrial action against the other, while discussions were ongoing.
“What makes your action regarding the stores most reprehensible, is your unfair and untruthful report that indicates you are closing the stores because of poor customer service. The truth is that this is unkind and puts a lie to those former occasions when you have thanked the staff for their efficiency of service, even where your management and staff support systems had failed your company,” he asserted.
“The Barbados Workers Union is demanding that you retract your termination letters and permit the process of conciliation under the minister’s chair to continue, bearing in mind, a meeting is scheduled for Monday, 7 January at 1 p.m.,” Sir Roy added.
“The Barbados Workers Union further demands you withdraw your unfair and improper commentaries regarding staff performance and that you tender a public apology for the injury you have managed to inflict on the staff you referred to,” wrote the veteran trade unionist.
He also told McDonald that any future action by LIME should respect the common agreement to have consultations fully within the meaning of the social partnership protocol and in keeping with standard industrial relations practices in Barbados.
Sir Roy further argued that there was no reason for the company to include the “back office” staff in its redundancies right now, considering that this issue was still being discussed at domestic level and that a time frame was agreed on for any possible decision.
Meanwhile, all retail stores were closed today.
The company posted notices on the outside advising customers that the outlet would be closed today and tomorrow to facilitate a managerial transition.
This was the result of the decision by the telecoms company, as announced yesterday by the LIME CEO, to get out of the retail business and turn the stores over to other better equipped and qualified firms to manage.
When contacted, McDonald declined to comment on the letter, which he said he had not yet seen, since he was on sick leave. firstname.lastname@example.org