PHASE 1: No disruption at ports; water and bus services to run as normal
With the island’s two main trade unions preparing to embark on major protest action against the Government tomorrow, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) tonight gave the assurance that there would be no disruption at the country’s air and sea ports and that both the state-run water and bus services would run as normal.
Following a four-hour long meeting which involved officials of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) at the BWU’s Solidarity House headquarters this evening, General Secretary Toni Moore outlined plans for the first phase of public demonstrations by the unions.
“We are calling on all our members in the public sector and all statutory boards to support tomorrow’s action. This support will be led by the executive council and staff of the Barbados Workers Union, excluding in this initial phase those employees of the [Barbados] Water Authority, Transport Board and our ports of entry,” she said, while warning that “we may need to ratchet up at some point in time”.
Further alluding to a possible Phase two to their actions, Moore said the BWU would not yet be calling out its members in the private sector.
“At this point in time, our initial support, will not extend to the private sector, but, if and when that moment comes, we will be sure to write the Barbados Employers Federation and follow all established protocols in place for informing of that type of action,” she said.
The national shutdown was called by the NUPW over the recent retirement of 13 workers at the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), including 10, who were over age 60.
Government has said the terminations were in keeping with the law. However, the NUPW argued that the national retirement age is still 67. Neither union is therefore prepared to take the development lightly.
In fact, Moore said tonight they were gravely concerned about the level of disrespect, which exists in both the Government and private sectors, which was one of the reasons they were throwing their full support behind the NUPW.
“As was previously stated, the fight, as we understand it, should not be reduced to the action taken by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation to retire 13 employees. It speaks to our larger concerns about the level of disrespect, which exists.
“The failure to consult, the removal of privileges and a shift in favour of approaches which seek to undermine our protocols and seek to establish processes of industrial relations. These approaches are not confined to the public sector but manifests themselves even recently in the atrocities of the [Barbados] Light and Power and other private sector employers,” Moore explained.