10-hour stretch

After ten hours of talks today, negotiations remain deadlocked between the management of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) and unions about the fate of 200 laid off employees.

The parties were locked in meetings, chaired by Deputy Chief Labour Officer Victor Felix, from 9:30 this morning at the Labour Department.

Present for the discussions were NCC chairman Earl Yarde; Dwaine Paul, deputy director of industrial relations at the Barbados Workers’ Union; and general secretary Dennis Clarke and president Walter Maloney of the National Union of Public Workers.

While officials had declined earlier in the deliberations to comment to the media, dismissed NCC workers who were present expressed frustration with the pace of the talks.

Following the marathon session that ended promptly at 7:30 p.m., Maloney, was asked by reporters if there was the result.

“Indeed there is a result,” he said, quickly adding: “It is not the result we were looking for.”

“The NCC’s position is that they want to go back to their principals on Friday and then after meeting with Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe, then to ask to have a meeting with us. We have some difficulty with this. They would have said that they would give us a list of the persons who work at NCC, along with those persons who would have been displaced. However, our position is that if you are going to call for a meeting on Friday, then we would expect that is what we are coming to discuss.

“They have not committed themselves to that. We have been trying to say, ‘Well, what are we going to come on Friday to discuss?’ There has been no commitment on that issue.”

The NUPW president said: “As far as we are concerned we are wasting time. Both unions have been steadfast in what we have been asking for. We are saying that the memorandum that was sent from the Ministry of the Civil Service to all departments, including the unions, we had agreed to that the process [of retrenchment] will be ‘last in, first out’.

“We are saying that we are going to use that as The Bible. That is what we agreed to. Any departure from that we would have difficulty with. So if you want to sit and discuss anything then we would have to be using that as the basis, as the guide for how people were displaced in the NCC. If you do not want to do that, then we have a difficulty,” Maloney added.

He also poured cold water over Friday’s meeting: “If you [NCC management] cannot tell us that the meeting will be to discuss those persons that would have been displaced, then what is the sense of the NUPW coming to the meeting?”

He said the unions were prepared to heighten their action, but stressed that there was a process in place and that the current developments had not reached the stage of strike action.



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