Irresponsible threat



That is how telecommunications giant LIME is branding a threat by the Barbados Workers Union to institute a national strike, if by tomorrow the company does not agree to return to the bargaining table with the BWU to discuss the laying off of 97 retail store and back office employees.

LIME said in a statement today that such a threat was an “irresponsible approach to a process which has been followed in full and has been ongoing for the past six months, when the Social Partnership clearly states that six weeks is the normal time frame for such negotiations to be completed”.

The statement argued that in the midst of a deep recession, a national strike was the last thing the country needed, when businesses and employees were struggling to maintain jobs.

The telecoms firm also expressed disappointment at suggestions that its management “blatantly” refused to attend yesterday’s negotiations with the union under the chairmanship of Minister of Labour, Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo at the Labour Department.

“The meeting was at the request of the minister and was set to discuss job evaluation and not recent redundancies as is being suggested,” pointed out the statement.

LIME explained that the minister was informed by letter yesterday morning that the company would not be represented at the meeting.

“The letter, which was copied to the BWU General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman, explained that the company was not in a position to deliver a report on job evaluation requested by the minister and would therefore wish to establish a new date for the meeting to further discuss this matter,” continued the statement.

“We must advise that the data which you deemed as being crucial to our discussions, is yet to be compiled, as in the past few days leading up to our tentative meeting date, we have been crippled by staff shortages, which meant that resources that would have been focused on this exercise, had to be re-allocated to other more pressing tasks.”

LIME is insisting that it would not be “flagrantly’ absent from a meeting without good reason, and since the company was not in a position to present the minister with the data she requested, it informed her and committed itself to agreeing a new date.

Yesterday, the union boss told reporters at the Labour Department that it had taken enough insults from the telecoms giant and it was now demanding that by tomorrow, it agrees to get back to the negotiation table with the union, failing which the BWU would impose a national strike.

Sir Roy has accused LIME of taking industrial action by terminating the 97 workers in the middle of negotiations on the matter, in breach of the collective bargaining process and a previous mutual arrangement that neither side would take such action against each other.

The union leader also described the “no show” of the LIME management yesterday as an insult to the minister, the BWU and the working class people of Barbados. After meeting yesterday at the Labour Department with the union delegation, Byer-Suckoo informed reporters she would be meeting shortly with the LIME management.

Neither the minister nor LIME Chief Executive Officer, Alex McDonald, was available this afternoon to comment. (EJ)††

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