The tourism sector has gone into a standby mode, as Barbadians tonight continued to wait with baited breath for the Barbados Workers Union to tell the country when exactly it’s going to start that agreed national strike.
The man with the answer, General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman, was still holding the date close to his chest ever since receiving overwhelming support from the union membership during a general meeting of all divisions at Solidarity House last night to determine what action would be taken.
The decision to embark on the island-wide shut down followed a breakdown in negotiations Wednesday night under the chairmanship of Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo at the Labour Department — a meeting called to discuss the termination of 97 LIME employees from its retail stores and back office.
This afternoon, Sir Roy warned Barbadians to take the proposed shut down seriously.
“When we are ready to name the day [of the strike], we will keep you [Barbados TODAY] informed. But our plans are going ahead; and just in case people don’t think we are serious, we are very serious, we are very serious,” insisted the union leader.
The BWU boss has already put all other employers on notice, whom he said may be “doing the same things” as LIME. He has accused the telecommunications firm of breaching the rules of collective agreements and processes of industrial relations.†He singled out two unnamed companies for special mention.
The local hotel and tourism industry meanwhile, has gone into a standby mode.
President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Patricia Affonso-Dass, told Barbados TODAY, that a national strike was not in the best interest of the country and the hospitality sector was making all the plans necessary to protect its guests and staff if, and when industrial action was taken.
She declined to comment further on the matter, since she said, it was still an active issue before the labour minister.
When contacted, Managing Director of LIME, Alex McDonald, informed this newspaper that he knew of no new developments, neither had he been formally notified of any scheduled meeting for returning to the bargaining table.
However, McDonald assured Barbados TODAY that his company was taking the planned national strike seriously.
Asked if he had put contingency plans in place, he replied: “All companies have contingency plans and we are no different.”
Byer-Suckoo also gave a terse comment on the current situation.
“We are not yet back at the [bargaining] table,” she responded when asked if there was anything new to report.
While businesses and individuals wait anxiously for Sir Roy to make the date of industrial action public, the union was being assured that it had the backing of its regional representative organisation. The Caribbean Congress of Labour wrote the BWU today advising it that the CCL was throwing its full support behind the local union in its struggle with LIME.
CCL General Secretary, Senator Chester Humphrey, said in the correspondence that it had informed all of its regional and international affiliates to express solidarity and stand shoulder to shoulder with the BWU “in its heroic struggle”. (EJ)†