Over to Stuart
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has been formally asked to step in and stave off a planned shut down of the country by the Barbados Workers Union this week.
Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo told Barbados TODAY tonight that she had formally referred the dispute between the BWU and telecommunications giant LIME, over the company’s termination of 97 employees, to her boss. Byer-Suckoo said her efforts to get the two parties to return to the negotiation table have failed.
It’s understood that the union will start with a local strike first, but she told this newspaper, the island-wide shut down is what most worried her.
The Prime Minister has informed the disputing sides that the issue had been officially referred to him. However, there has been no discussion on the matter as yet between Stuart and the two parties, neither has any date been set to meet with him.
Tonight, while addressing union delegates from all its divisions, General Secretary Sir Roy Trotman hinted that strike action would start in the next 40 hours.
“That is all I would say for now,” the union leader added. Sir Roy met with the presidents and secretaries of its divisions to finalise plans for the strike.
There was evidence this evening that industrial action was close as workers were seen “building” placards. Some of those placards which were taken into the auditorium and lined against the wall as the delegates met, read “industrial relations equals human relations”, “get it right or we will fight” and “respect the I.R process”.
When contacted, Managing Director of LIME, Alex McDonald, told Barbados TODAY the Prime Minister informed him that the dispute was formally referred to him, but that there had been no discussion on the issue as yet.
Up to writing Sir Roy was still meeting with the delegates. The strike was called after talks broke down last week under the chairmanship of the minister.
The BWU is accusing LIME of disrespecting the collective agreement and sending home 97 employees from its retail stores and back office, while negotiations were ongoing. (EJ)