NUPW out in the cold
The bitter impasse between the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and management of the Barbados Community College (BCC) took another ugly turn today, as NUPW General Secretary Dennis Clarke and President Walter Maloney were barred from entering the college’s compound at Howell’s Cross Road, St Michael this morning.
The NUPW top officials had scheduled a meeting with the workers. However, when they turned up at the gates of the college, they were met by armed police and BCC security guards.
Maloney, who appeared to be put off by the college’s actions, raised concern about the stepped up security presence, saying that there was no real threat of violence.
“When I visited the Barbados Community College I felt as if I was in a ‘militarised zone’. I have never seen so many police officers with guns and handcuffs keeping workers out of a public place,” he later told reporters, while condemning the heightened security presence.
“We have had 70 years of representing public workers in Barbados. All of the fights were not pleasant, a lot of muscular language was used at some point, but at least we had total respect for others with an understanding that there was a procedure to follow and we followed it.
“We have the understanding that in industrial relations there is a time for ‘venting’. What we are seeing from the Barbados Community College is an attempt to pervert “venting” and later discussion.”
Arguing that the dispute at the BCC was going downhill rapidly, Maloney said: “It seems to us that the management of the BCC has no intention of meeting with the union in any haste to rectify the problems.”
However, he said based on what had been drawn to the NUPW’s attention, “some members of staff who are not appointed feel bludgeoned if they do not sign the contracts”.
“There are perceived threats that if you do not sign you may lose your job and hours can be cut. There is this circle of fear and hence a lot of persons are not necessarily reluctant to join the fight, but feel they will be victimised if they so do.
“We cannot in this country continue to have an industrial relations situation like this continue to fester,” he stressed.
Today, NUPW officials met briefly with Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo at the union’s Dalkeith headquarters where members of the Social Partnership were previously scheduled to hold talks. The Minister is hopeful of a speedy settlement to the matter.
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