Not over yet
The Barbados Workers Union has held a second round of talks with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler aimed at getting an even clearer picture of exactly what it is Government is proposing with its planned retrenchment of 3,000 public servants.
Emerging from that meeting just after five yesterday evening, BWU general secretary Sir Roy Trotman told reporters that while everyone believed that they “know” what Government was proposing to do, it was necessary to have a second round of discussion for the union to get a better understanding of Government’s proposals.
“The Government has put a position to the trade union movement, and that includes the Barbados Workers Union, that paints a very bleak picture of the future. It is a picture that scares me and makes me very uneasy. It is a picture that should make every public- spirited Barbadian equally unhappy. We for our part have a responsibility to do the best we can to represent the interest of every single worker.
“I told the minister today where I used the figure three, although it was 3,000, even three is three too many, because, as far as we are concerned, every government of every country should have a responsibility for ensuring the right to employment.
“It doesn’t always work out. It is never total, but that should be everybody’s right,” he told the media who had camped out outside of Government Headquarters for the talks which began at 2 pm.
There, Sir Roy explained that the Government had put forward some of the problems that it was facing and though the union acknowledged that some alternatives to what was being proposed had been placed on the table, the BWU was “required to meet again” with Minister Sinckler.
“At that time we are going be ready to have a meaningful debate regarding whether his package of difficulties, of remedies is accepted the way that he puts it, whether there is a package that is put forward by the combined efforts of others, including other trade unions [and if they] can together alleviate the problems, and be considered as alternative measures . . . or whether we can have a combination of what the minister has and what we might have and what other generous members of the public might have putting forward in their suggestions.
“I made the minister aware that we will be having that meeting. I have to talk to my colleague first, but we have agreed since yesterday [Thursday] that our next series of meetings will be meetings when the National Union of Public Workers, under Dennis Clarke, and the Barbados Workers Union, we will be speaking with the minister regarding how we can best address the difficulties.
That meeting is expected to be held in the afternoon of Tuesday next week,” he revealed.
Asked whether proposals that had been verbally put forward by the union had been considered at any stages as yet, he noted that Minister Sinckler had no written proposal from the BWU, but he did have from the NUPW.
“He [Sinckler] has made it clear that he has a team studying those proposals from the NUPW and those matters which we
are talking about today, those will also be considered in the matters which will become the subject of fuller discussion with him.”
On the issue of recent retrenchments, he said he had communicated with the minister that he was disappointed with the turn of events. Sir Roy noted that this could not be considered an act of good faith.
“Where we have an understanding that there is a meeting and that that meeting will address the issues, I believe that it is offensive, the kind of offence that may lead to industrial dislocation, if it is continued by any other institution, statutory board or department of Government.
“If people have been advised they should look at their options, that is fine; but if any department or statutory board were to proceed to take similar action without proper consultative exercises, and, if those members are members of the Barbados Workers Union, then we are going to have dislocation in this country,” the BWU boss warned.