Transport Board workers meet with opposition leader over retrenchments
There were tales of woe and cries of victimization as the more than 30 severed Transport Board workers emerged from a meeting with Opposition Leader, Mia Mottley, at her office in Parliament Yard today.
The severed workers had descended on Mottley’s office around 3:30 p.m., Barbados TODAY understands, to voice their concerns over the manner of their retrenchment and to seek advice on the way forward.
Several of the workers complained that the traditional practice of the last in, first out was never employed in the retrenchment exercise.
They reiterated their concern that several workers, with as many as 15 years service were severed, while workers with less than five years were retained.
“This is a clear case of victimization based on political affiliation. There seems to be an attempt to rid the board of all workers suspected of Barbados Labour Party connections,” one angry worker said.
One of the main concerns of the workers was a situation where the lone breadwinner in several families was being placed on the breadline.
Expressing his grave concern with the retrenchment, David Pile, who has been employed at the board for the past 14 years as a driver, said: “The issue at the Transport Board is this: The Prime Minister of Barbados came on my television and clearly defined the word temporary and stressed that the only persons that will be severed will be temporary staff. The Minister of Finance said last in, first out. These were the criteria.
“The Transport Board came with their own criteria. Workers who are doing 27 years or so, who are staff members in the institution, have been sent home and temporary workers remain employed. Apart from that you have cases where people who were severed are being reinstated. However, all of the reinstated workers are temporary workers and staff workers are still at home.”
Another worker claimed that the relative of a minister of Government and the son of a senior Democratic Labour Party operative remained employed at the board even though they have been employed since the change of Government in 2008.
Several workers shouted in unison that there were clear cases of victimization and they had visited the opposition office to get a legal position on the issue.
Everton Jordan, who has been working at the board for the past 24 years as a driver, said he was handed his retrenchment documents today.
Jordan expressed disappointment at the quality of representation being offered by the Barbados Workers Union after workers were told that the termination letters would be put on hold.
“This is unfair to me. I received this letter today which is dated Monday, March 3 after I returned from transporting students to school. My letter of termination stated that I was severed because of a downturn in business,” Jordan cried.
Driver Edwing Tappin, who claimed he was called off the road and terminated, said: “I started working at the board in 2007. The main reason why I am here this afternoon is because I am the only breadwinner in my family. I am the father of two girls and two boys. I have a sister who is differently able and my dad who used to look after her died in February 2013. So she is my responsibility along with my nephew, so I am juggling two homes. I do not know my next move now. I got my letter about 11:45 today.”
Cashier Shernelle Blackett who has been working at the board for the past 19 years said she was the sole breadwinner in her house with a loan from the credit union to service.
Security supervisor, Orville Osbourne who has been working at the board for the past 18 years said he was the sole breadwinner in his house with a female companion who is physically challenged.
One woman who said she is now 53 years old with grown children and a mortgage to service, queried who was going to employ her at this age.
Meanwhile, Mottley who had broken off a meeting to speak to the workers who had descended on her office was unable to meet with the Press having restarted the meeting with her earlier guests. She was still unreachable up to publication time.