NUPW calls for retrenched NCC workers to be returned to their posts
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is demanding the immediate reinstatement of close to 200 retrenched National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers on the heels of reports that eight of the nine members of the Employment Rights Tribunal have resigned.
Members of the tribunal reportedly submitted their letters of resignation to Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo on December 5 citing frustration over the failure of the authorities to meet basic requests for hearings to begin.
When Barbados TODAY contacted former chairman of the tribunal Traece Codrington she would only say, “I have absolutely no comment to make”.
But in a brief interview this afternoon Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Roslyn Smith said the trade union would be sending a letter to the Minister of Labour requesting that the former NCC workers be returned to their posts.
“The workers should be reinstated immediately given the length of time we were awaiting to hear from the tribunal. And the Prime Minister did promise that we would have had an early response from the tribunal post the meeting we had with him. So I think it would be unfair to the workers who are experiencing hardship at this point to be left out there in the cold. So our position is to reinstate them,” said Smith.
Back in May, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had referred the contentious dismissal of the NCC workers to the tribunal, which was set up in July last year, after talks between the NCC management, the NUPW and the Barbados Workers Union ended in a stalemate.
The unions had charged that management flouted the agreed process by which dismissals were to be handled, including the first-in, last-out principle.
The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB), which is the umbrella body for trade unions here, has scheduled a press conference for Friday at which it is expected to discuss the matter.
However, General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union Caswell Franklyn has described the resignation of the tribunal members as “music to his ears”, while declaring that they should have been fired by the Minister of Labour.
He further suggested that it would have been even better if they had vacated their posts long before before December 5.
“Even though they did the honourable thing now, they should have done the honourable thing before,” argued Franklyn.
“This tribunal should have gone not only for the reasons they gave, but because they have failed to perform the duties that were given to them. They are blaming it on staff and everything else. That is nonsense!”
He pointed out that other tribunals in Barbados, including the Severance Payments Tribunal and the National Insurance Tribunal “don’t have any separate or individual staff”.
Franklyn further insisted there was no need for the NCC matter to end up before the Employment Rights Tribunal, while charging that the move was a mere “delaying tactic”.
“The Prime Minister in Cabinet gave instructions to the ministries and the departments and statutory boards on how to do the process of sending home people who were going to be made redundant and the NCC ignored it. All the Cabinet should have done is say, ‘go and do what I have told you’. [However], it seems as though the Cabinet has no teeth, nobody pays it any mind. That was a way out for the NCC and for the Government to pass the buck,” he argued.
Franklyn was equally adamant that the dismissed workers were treated badly and that all parties involved in the process had suffered a loss of credibility.
“The unions for accepting this nonsense, the NCC for treating the workers the way they did, the Prime Minister for not recognizing that he has the power to do something about it and passing the buck.”
He called on the Ministry of Labour to urgently find a team of competent individuals to formulate a new tribunal.
Please also see Pages 4&5 in the Barbados Today 17/12/2014 edition for more.