BCC layoffs still pending
Union to meet with management on Thursday
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is looking for a cut in the number of employees being laid off from the Barbados Community College, by the end of a meeting with management by Thursday.
NUPW general secretary Dennis Clarke told Barbados TODAY this afternoon he was hoping meaningful discussions would bring about such a reduction.
“They have indicated that they will meet with the union by Thursday and we are hopeful that we would be able to get some sort of meaningful dialogue, where the numbers that they are planning to retrench would be reduced,” Clarke suggested.
He also had something to say about pending layoffs in other Government departments.
“With respect to NCC [National Conservation Commission], we’ve not been hearing anything on that score, and my fear is that . . . that retrenchment might come suddenly, just like it happened with Drainage [Division] and with Beautification Barbados,” he stated.
The trade union boss told this newspaper some of those laid off workers from Beautification Barbados vented their ire at the union yesterday.
“We had some very, very angry . . . workers from Beautification Barbados yesterday, who were extremely angry with the union. I would not want to repeat the words they said,” he added.
Clarke explained that the union was locked in negotiations towards the end of last year on behalf of these employees.
“We were trying to get management to overturn a decision that I thought was most unfair; a decision where they would have taken advantage of the workers by reducing their contract gratuity,” continued the NUPW leader.
“These workers work for the public Service, but because they work on contract, they were not pensionable; and we sought to see if we could get them to restore the contract gratuity from ten per cent, to which it was reduced, back to the 20 per cent, which they were getting,” he said.
“When you are giving workers at that level a contract gratuity, you should explain to them the ramifications of it. I am sure if you had told [the worker] that 20 per cent gratuity is in lieu of pension, and to take it, and invest it in a small pension plan, the workers would have done that.” “None of these things they did, because they did these things behind the union’s back . . . .The ministers bring them in, . . . the poor workers are glad to have a job, and they don’t know about their contractual rights,” he said.
The union official said the workers from Beautification Barbados were now lamenting and “heaping coals and brimstone on top of the head of the union”.
He disclosed that the Union would be writing the Ministry of the Civil Service shortly on the gratuity matter.
“So it is a question that we got to wait now and see who is next. So you would have had layoffs of workers across the public service,” he declared.
The NUPW boss said while he expected more retrenchments, he did not anticipate the numbers would be many. “If they do come, I don’t expect that they would be many; but after yesterday’s and even today’s behaviour towards the workers, I don’t think the workers in the public service can suffer any more pain; so I wouldn’t expect anything further, but at the same time, I am not holding my breath,” concluded the senior trade unionist.