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Sugar deal on the horizon

There could be some light at the end of the tunnel in the ongoing sugar workers’ strike. 

Talks between the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) adjourned this evening with an announcement from union boss Sir Roy Trotman that there was now a statement being brokered by Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo “as a basis for a resolution in the dispute”.

“At this stage, that document is embargoed and may not be made public because the parties are in their private discussions examining what, so far as I am concerned, is a second draft,” Sir Roy said after the meeting broke around 5:30 p.m.

“[It] will endeavour to deal with a number of issues all of which were thrown up during these discussions and all of which went to the vital questions which the union had raised, and which every worker in Barbados will wish in his or her own interest to be studying regarding his or her future.”

Sir Roy said that as soon as practical after tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting, the parties would return to, hopefully, “break the back of this matter”. The BWU boss told reporters he was more optimistic of a resolution today than he was two days ago.

“I believe that industrial relations is the kind of exercise or discipline where very much depends on goodwill. I haven’t seen a lot of goodwill in Barbados in 2014,” he said.

Talks will resume tomorrow at 4 p.m. and will again be chaired by the Minister of Labour. In the event that a settlement is made, Sir Roy said, things should get going again at Portvale soon after.

“I would like to believe that everybody is being driven by two practical realities –– one is that there is going to be a stoppage in the sugar industry on Good Friday. [That] is a non-work day, and Easter Sunday is a non-work day.

“So I believe that everybody is cognizant of that reality, so that even if there had been a resolution today, I would think that there would only be limited work tomorrow.

“But I think that everybody beyond that is very anxious to ensure that this stoppage which should never have taken place, if people had merely followed proper behaviour, on the employers side, that this particular thing would be able to get itself off the landscape, and allow us to proceed with the harvesting of the crop. I think that that is everybody’s wish,”  Sir Roy added.

He also took the opportunity to praise sugar workers for holding firm over the past week.

“I know that the workers in the sugar industry have had a bashing from several members of the public, and we are very sorry the public can see only where their personal interest   may lie and, in some cases, that may lie in seeing that anything  I do is wrong.

“[But] they do not, unfortunately, attempt to understand the very significant pressure which sugar workers, especially those in the factories, have been experiencing over this matter.”

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