CTUSAB puts foot down on Tribunal
The umbrella body for trade unions in Barbados has told the Freundel Stuart Administration it would not be part of any future Employment Rights Tribunal unless it is fully equipped to conduct its work and thus avoid another collapse.
President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) of Barbados Cedric Murrell told a media conference at its Beckles Road, St Michael office today, that the Ministry of Labour had asked it to nominate representatives to the tribunal again, following this week’s resignation of eight of the nine members.
But Murrell said he made it clear CTUSAB would not be part of any such process until that Government-commissioned entity was in a position to start hearing the cases of workers.
“The Congress, will, before making those nominations, have to be assured that the necessary infrastructure and the actual procedures and so on are in place. We have already signalled that very clearly to the Ministry. We are really anxious to be part of ensuring now that what should be done and put in place, is in place,” the CTUSAB leader stressed.
Murrell hopes the nomination process would be finished by early next month.
He said the resignation of the members of the tribunal was unfortunate and regrettable.
“We are very aware that as long as the Employment Rights Tribunal does not meet, the only loosers are the applicants who have applied to it for relief, who are workers; and therefore as far as we are concerned, our primary interest is to have that Tribunal to adjudicate the matters before it,” Murrell added.
Without committing himself to saying directly that the retrenched workers of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) should be reinstated, he claimed that the Government did not have the money to pay them in the first place, adding he was not aware its revenue had increased at this time.
“I am not aware that the finances of the Government has increased to that extent. I am also aware that the two unions involved [in the NCC workers case before the Tribunal] did apply to the Employment Rights Tribunal and that those applications are still residing with the Employment Rights Tribunal, and before that [any reinstatement] could happen, those applications would have to be withdrawn.”
Murrell said the Congress was aware for some time there were difficulties being experienced and it had commented publicly on them twice this year suggesting how they could be overcome. He said CTUSAB also held discussions with the Ministry on those challenges.
“That is passed. The members have resigned. The Congress has been asked to nominate representatives once again. We are in the process of nominating and identifying those persons to reconstitute the Employment Rights Tribunal.”
Asked if he agreed with suggestions that Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo should follow members of the Tribunal and resign because of her “ineffectiveness” in the matter, Murrell said he did not share such sentiments.
“The Congress has not discussed [the matter] and so at this time we do not share that view. We have had as a Congress, significantly beneficial relations with the Ministry and the Minister and we believe that thus far, in a very troubling and trying time that we have been able to ensure that the labour market and environment in Barbdos has largely been without major schisms, major issues, major fallout,” he added.
The top trade unionist said he hoped that trend would continue.