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Two workers reinstated but union set for more talks

Industrial action planned for tomorrow by the Barbados Workers’ Union in support of severed Transport Board workers has been temporarily put on hold.

And two shop stewards employed at the Transport Board who were among the 100 workers severed today have also been reinstated.

General secretary of the BWU, Sir Roy Trotman, made these disclosures tonight shortly after emerging from a two-and-a-quarter-hour meeting chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart at Government Headquarters, Bay Street, St Michael.

Giving a lengthy report on what transpired at the meeting, Sir Roy said: “We had a fairly lengthy meeting with the Prime Minister and the meeting centred around the question, not of whether the Transport Board needs to follow the position which the Government articulated late last year, but rather what are the processes that are being used; what are the kinds of enhancement arrangements that are being considered; what protection there are for the most vulnerable and how, by and large, we bring a greater level of ease to people who are losing their employment at this time?

“That discussion of necessity took some considerable time. The Government is going to take some considerable time to study more fully the position that we have outlined and for our part we have made a very conscious decision that the industrial action which was planned for tomorrow, Tuesday, that is now on hold,” Sir Roy added.

Asked how many workers were severed today at the Transport Board, the veteran trade unionist said “possibly more than 100”.

“The sending of the letters has again been a matter of some concern because there are many areas which are down for further discussion between the board and ourselves and are now at the level of discussion of the Prime Minister and ministers and ourselves,” Sir Roy said.

Responding to a query which sought clarification on further layoffs at the board, Sir Roy said: “We have not made any suggestions with regard to layoffs because we were not aware at the time, the extent of the layoffs and we have indicated that those discussions are not
yet through and it is understood that we have to continue discussions.

“We have discussed all of the areas that were up for discussion such as separation packages and they have been recognized and respected by both sides. The Government understands what we are saying, I have no doubt. The Government hopes that we understand that Government is cash-strapped in a manner that is unprecedented. While we accept that, we are taking the position that what we know now, we knew in January and that they should have been further discussions by the Ministry of Finance or other officials and ourselves after our meetings in January and where those meetings were not held we had every reason to believe that the ministry was examining that body of proposals that had been put that government said it was studying.”

Meanwhile, on emerging from the meeting and queried on its outcome, general manager of the Transport Board, Sandra Forde, said: “Talks were inconclusive and both parties will continue discussions next week.”

Prime Minister Stuart declined to comment on the discussion and referred members of the Press to Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley for a comment.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart leaving the meeting.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart leaving the meeting.

In a  very brief comment Lashley said: “Discussions were cordial. I will get back to the Press in the fullness of time.”

Minister Michael Lashley (left) chatting with Transport Board managers ahead of the meeting.

Minister Michael Lashley (left) chatting with Transport Board managers ahead of the meeting.

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