Concern for workers at Customs and Mental
Representatives of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) are due to meet today with officials of Government’s Personnel Administration Division to discuss the matter of outstanding appointments at the Customs & Excise Department.
With a long list of officers, including the acting Comptroller Annette Weekes and her three deputies, as well as five assistant comptrollers, yet to be confirmed in their positions, the NUPW is also preparing for crucial talks with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler today.
This follows his three-hour meeting with representatives of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) yesterday at the end of which he expressed optimism that 95 per cent of concerns related to the transfer of workers to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) had been addressed.
The other five per cent were “juggernaut issues”, which would be dealt with at the bargaining table, Sinckler told reporters outside of Government Headquarters on Monday.
However, when contacted today, the acting NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith said she would await the outcome of the NUPW’s meeting with the Minister, who has Cabinet responsibility for BRA, before issuing a public response to his latest pronouncements on the transfer.
Following Monday’s meeting, Sinckler sought to assure the soon to be BRA employees that they would not be disadvantaged in any way as a result of the planned switch over to BRA, scheduled for July 1.
Barbados TODAY has been reliably informed that a new revenue collection and enforcement unit is to be established under the BRA umbrella, called the External Taxes and Border Control Division.
It will be headed up by a new Director, who is to be appointed from within the ranks of the CED and will report directly to the Revenue Commissioner Margaret Sivers, while Weekes will take up another administrative position within BRA.
As part of the terms and conditions of the transition, appointed CED officers are to be seconded to BRA initially for a period of up to two years “as long as there are no adverse reports on the officers”, while those currently acting in posts will be offered a position at the acting level as long as the substantive holder of the post does not accept an offer to transition to the BRA.
However, Smith said yesterday the NUPW was not yet satisfied that the concerns of its members had been met.
“I prefer to hear from the Minister and then we would know exactly if our expectations have been met,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Meantime, the NUPW is also concerned about the situation at the state-run Psychiatric Hospital where nurses and other employees have recently been complaining about appalling working conditions.
Providing an update on the situation, the NUPW official revealed that a meeting had been held with management of the mental institution at Black Rock, St Michael.
The union is now due to formally table its concerns with the hospital’s authorities by Wednesday.