BCC contract still in dispute

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has not taken the contentious contract issue involving temporary tutors at the Barbados Community College (BCC) off the table.

According to NUPW senior industrial relations officer Wayne Walrond, the issue was referred to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and the union was awaiting word on their determination of an issue related to that matter.

Senior industrial relations officer at the NUPW, Wayne Walrond.
Senior industrial relations officer at the NUPW, Wayne Walrond.

“We still need to have urgent talks on a number of matters, including the contentious contracts [the BCC] issued to part time tutors,” Walrond told Barbados TODAY.

“We have submitted information to the National Insurance Department who will make a determination on whether these workers are employees or whether they are self-employed.”

Walrond said a sample copy of the contracts had also been sent to the NIS because all of them are identical.

The union official hopes a response will be forthcoming soon so that there can be clarification on whether the part time tutors are self-employed, as claimed by the college, or are under the full control of that educational institution.

Walrond said the union was of the view that the college was trying to categorize the tutors as contractors for service or independent contractors in order to escape the financial burden of having to pay national insurance for them, as it had embarked on cost-cutting.

“One must be aware that we suspect that the move to try to designate these persons as contract for services which means self-employed or independent contractors is that in such cases, when you are self-employed, the employee does not have to take out national insurance and, by extension, that equal amount adds a part of the [employer’s] expense,” he added.

Walrond said other BCC-related issues had to do with outstanding appointments and claims by the college that funding had not been made available to pay the correct hourly rates to the part-time tutors, dating back to 2006 when they were adjusted.

He noted, too, that an unresolved matter related to people who have been working for many years and still being deemed to be temporary.

“So we are to have further meetings on that and the whole issue of vacation leave apparently because people are part-time…temporary, they [BCC] prorating their vacation leave; they are not credited fully for the year,” the senior industrial relations officer pointed out.

For example, Walrond explained, “if I had been employed as a general worker with the BCC for the last five years, what they would do…and I work for six months, I only get vacation up to six months into the contract.”

Whereas traditionally, he added, once an employee is on staff, the full vacation leave is with the assumption they would work continuously, because they are on staff.

“The issue of prorating vacation is one we have to look at because that is not giving them the full leave for their time of service in the institution. So we will be seeking further dialogue with the principals who have these matters buried now. That is where we are at…” Walrond said.

He  expects that in another two weeks, both sides will sit down at the negotiating table to have the outstanding issues addressed, excluding the contract matter, which will be determined by the NIS.

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