Water strike over
It’s back to work for striking Barbados Water Authority (BWA) employees after talks between Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo, Chief Labour Officer Vincent Burnet and a delegation from the Barbados Workers’ Union and the BWA were suspended just after nine last night.
Speaking to the media after emerging from close to a four-and-a-half-hour meeting, Suckoo said the parties had suspended their talk, but had made headway on some of the issues, thought discussions needed to continue.
“We have agreed that we will meet back here [at the Labour Department in Warrens] tomorrow morning [at 9:30 a.m.] and we will try to get to the meat of the matter. Some of the matters are too detailed to be resolved in a night or even by tomorrow morning. Specifics like how many percentage points at what grade for what year . . . things like that.
“What we have now is a commitment to negotiating; a commitment from all sides. [Having the workers return to work] is standard protocol and it has been agreed to. There will no recriminations on any side coming out of where we are at now and also there will be a suspension and return to normalcy for the duration of negotiations,” she said, quickly pointing out that if the talks were to break down, it would be anyone’s guess what would happen next.
The minister also revealed that she had been able to update Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick, under whose ministry the BWA falls, on the status of the talks.
Meanwhile BWU general secretary Sir Roy Trotman noted that though he was happy that some progress had been made, he would have liked to have seen some more.
“. . . But I think we have the framework for an agreement. When those discussion are held, we will be better able to say whether we have the making of a full agreement or not. There are some people who would like to believe that this matter addresses only the matter of money, and I wish to say it has much more than [that] to deal with,” he said as he confirmed that there was agreement on both sides that there would be no further industrial action and there would be no recriminations or victimization.
On the part of the BWA, chairman Dr Atlee Brathwaite, noting that he was satisfied with the talks held so far, said that “the discussion that is planned for tomorrow is a general discussion where we will attempt to establish good relationship between the BWU and the BWA”.
Before entering this afternoon talks, Sir Roy told Barbados TODAY that his delegation had gone to the ministry to meet with Minister of Labour and Social Security Senator Byer-Suckoo, who had undertaken to conciliate in the dispute with the BWA.
“Our executive council had been invited to meet at 5 p.m. this evening, so they will be waiting for us at Solidarity House and [from there] we will be able to report to them what is the outcome of this meeting and make serious decisions about where were are going from there.”
Throughout the evening and into the night, there was a flurry of activity from the time the doors to the main conference room of the Government Office Complex in Warrens were closed at 4:38 p.m. and Minister of Labour Byer-Suckoo, Chief Labour Officer Burnett, along with the Barbados Workers Union delegation headed by general secretary Sir Roy and officials of the Barbados Water Authority, led by the chairman Brathwaite bunkered down for talks; in what many on the evening considered a last- ditch effort at staving off heightened industrial action.