Blame Dem!

BWU says Govt must shoulder responsibility for Customs dispute

The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) yesterday blamed the Ministry of Finance and the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) for the current Customs & Excise Department impasse, saying there was a lack of information from the start.

Speaking to reporters on a number of labour-related issues, General Secretary Toni Moore said several different approaches were discussed on how to resolve the issue but a lack of information from the ruling Democratic Labour Party administration had led to a reluctance by Customs officers to merge with the BRA and had “elevated the sense of uncertainty”.

General Secretary Toni Moore says the BWU is demanding adjustments to pay levels of public servants and workers in the private sector.
General Secretary Toni Moore

“Even as we speak, there are more elements of the proposal for transition that are not clear because full information is still not before us. But there is a commitment that it will be provided,” Moore told the news conference at the BWU’s Solidarity House headquarters.

Since the announcement of the proposed merger, Customs Department employees and the BWU, their bargaining agent, have expressed concerns related to appointments, job titles and issues surrounding supersession.

“The BWU recognizes, first and foremost, the implausibility of the Barbados Revenue Authority legislation being repealed. However, the Barbados Workers Union recognizes that the level of responses of the BRA and the parent ministry, the Ministry of Finance, has contributed significantly to the doubt and uncertainty that many Customs guards and officers feel regarding how the organization will function and how they, the workers, will be able to give efficient and productive service,” said Moore.

“It is for this reason that the Barbados Workers Union has maintained a position, which is a position I see rooted in the architectural truism, [that] form must follow function. Put simply, the shape of the Barbados Revenue Authority should be primarily based on the functions intended for the Customs guards and the Customs officers if or when they transition into the authority,” she added.

Moore said it was critical for the BWU to ensure that all the outstanding issues were “effectively resolved before there can be any transition, before there can be any contemplated agreement regarding transition”.

She also made clear that the BWU had given “absolutely no commitment” as to when option forms should be distributed to staff.

“The Barbados Workers Union, in our meetings over the past month or so, has maintained that the employment particulars of those being asked to transfer, should be clearly set down, discussed and agreed before persons should be even asked to exercise an option of whether or not they would want to transfer,” she said.

She also maintained that the options that were being given to the workers should be “no less favourable than what currently exists in the civil service” and that the positions should be clearly defined and understood to permit workers to exercise their options.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler (left) following recent talks with Customs workers and their unions.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler (left) following recent talks with Customs workers and their unions.

“The BWU therefore insisted that such guidance should come from the Solicitor-General’s office and that is a position that has been agreed,” the general secretary explained.

“The BWU reiterates our position, therefore, [as] stated to the Minister of Finance in our last meeting June 1, 2015, that no artificial date should be imposed for the presentation of option forms. No July date, no September date, no December date; no date.

“Rather, the issue of option forms should follow satisfactory resolution, in our view, of the issues I have identified previously as the major items being addressed by not only the Barbados Workers Union but also the National Union of Public Workers,” Moore told reporters.

5 Responses to Blame Dem!

  1. Patrick Blackman June 26, 2015 at 10:26 am

    “Put simply, the shape of the Barbados Revenue Authority should be primarily based on the functions intended for the Customs guards and the Customs officers if or when they transition into the authority”
    Are you serious, where did you study labour relations, organizational governance and structure? Give me a break ,this is why you guys have become irrelevant. A decision has been made get onboard or move on.

  2. dave June 26, 2015 at 11:45 am

    A decision was made in Trinidad too. Everything was signed sealed and delivered, laws passed in Parliament etc. Trinidad still rejected the Revenue Authority. Do your research Mr. Patrick Blackman. The Government is not the masters , the Government is the servants of the people, they are not Gods. You seem to suggest that as long as they say do it regardless of how unfair it is to the workers, just obey. This is ludicrous and will not be accepted by an educated population . Slavery done Massa !

  3. Patrick Blackman June 26, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    @dave – I am not dealing with Trinidad, I am addressing an issue in B’dos and the comments made by the union quoted above. The union is advocating a re-alignment of the structure of the BRA to be primarily based of the intended functions of the Customs workers which is stupid.

    When you elected this government you gave them the mandate to rule, so wait to the next election and change the government. What is so unfair above the consolidation of the BRA & Customs? The union has not articulated the issues in any meaningful or substantive way.

    If government is going to achieved substantial cost savings and operational efficiencies, then this is the right thing to do. The union has to come out and show why this consolidation is a bad thing. Things are not always about the worker, but what is in the best interest of the country, remember that sir.

  4. dave June 26, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I refer you to the Trinidad situation. There are lots of information there to clear your head. In this regard the similarities between Customs Barbados and Customs Trinidad are extremely close. The Customs Laws in both countries read virtually the same. Customs Officers in Barbados have been trained in Trinidad. Do your research and look at the Laws, you can google the Customs Laws of both countries. Youtube what the President of the Union in Trinidad says about Revenue Authorities . Examine the Trinidad situation closely. Barbados does not exist in a vacuum. Please note that the Excise and Vat sections have been subsumed under BRA. You have those sections, keep them but BRA cannot administer the law enforcement side of Customs. The Police and Immigration collect revenue too. Are they going to grab up those entities too ? BRA is not even administering the Inland Revenue and Land Tax duties that they have taken up , revenue collection has deteriorated significantly and BRA is failing. Many workers have asked to go back to the Public Service from BRA. Some have already gone back. BRA cannot and should not be allowed to administer Customs affairs. Revenue authorities have failed all over the world. Revenue authorities do not guarantee efficiency and the opposite actually obtains. Canada tried it and had to return to the status quo ante. Sir , you need to research and present facts and stop swallowing crap. Do not engage in the old Barbadian habit of mouthing off what you believe in your head about a situation while ignoring empirical data. Do not be superficial. There is more in the mortar than the pestle. Do your research and then come back to speak/write.

  5. Patrick Blackman June 26, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    @dave, first of all, I reside in Canada and I have been involved in this area at a very technical level interms of policy and implementation for quite sometime, unfortunately I am unable to expand on the various legal frameworks that are at play here as that would contravene my code of ethics at work.

    B’dos and TNT are different jurisdictions, the fact that they may have similar legislation doesn’t mean that the governance structure should be the same.

    My position on this issue if you would read my comments is that of the union providing reasons why the two entities should not be merged. My comments focused on the quote
    “Put simply, the shape of the Barbados Revenue Authority should be primarily based on the functions intended for the Customs guards and the Customs officers if or when they transition into the authority” which I found to seriously lack any substance. If this is the basis of their position then it has no merit.
    The union has to come out and clearly state the impact this consolidation would have on its members, state the potential jobs at risk, highlight the level of inefficiecies, pay differentials, seniority, pension benefits, job description etc., add context to the discussion so that we can get a clear position of the scale of the issues involved.
    To date these issues have not been outlined in any concise manner. Take out a full page ad in the papers and out line the major issues, government’s response to those issues and the combine position of both unions. This perponderance of partial disclosure doesn’t provide the public with context.


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