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Never again

Labour minister chastises Union for striking during talks

The Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer has made it clear that never again would she attempt to mediate any industrial relations dispute while workers involved in that dispute were engaged in industrial action.

The strongly-worded message came last night at the end of eight hours of unsuccessful negotiations between the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the state-owned Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC).

Sanitation workers remained on strike while the talks, mediated by the Minister, were ongoing.   

Minister of Labour Esther Byer

Minister of Labour Esther Byer

“[What] usually happens in this country is that once we agree to sit across the table, industrial action is suspended,” an emphatic Byer said, stressing that her decision to chair last night’s talks must not be taken as precedence.

“A case was made and I said ‘ok’. What was agreed was that there [would] not have been the escalation today [yesterday] that was intended for today. So it wasn’t escalated, but it continued. That is something again, that is not to happen in this country. Henceforth, we are going back to a situation . . . no industrial action when we are on the table. It can’t work.

“When we sit across the table to talk, we will suspend industrial action. I allowed it, but it cannot be to set a precedence,” the Minister emphasized.

Byer called on both labour and employer to show mutual respect and good faith in their negotiations, and reminded all parties that she could not be called upon to chastise one side for not following process while the other violated the custom.

“We cannot as one partner be calling on one partner to respect the system, respect the voluntaristic system, respect the customs and practice, and then you don’t respect the customs and practice,” she added.

The Minister reminded both sides that, as part of the Social Partnership protocol, all the parties agreed that the island’s industrial harmony was important, and that it was  based on the voluntaristic system, which commited everyone to talking.

“Though we have the Employment Rights Act that speaks to consultation under certain circumstances . . . consultation when you are looking to make persons redundant, our voluntaristic system says that when you are making any changes that affect workers, we talk. The word consultation seems to have everbody tie up. We have all gotten tied up [in] knots with this word called consultation
. . . . If consultation is getting us in trouble, let us go back to the simply word we know . . . let us talk,” the Minister of Labour concluded.

10 Responses to Never again

  1. Thomas Katt
    Thomas Katt July 11, 2015 at 6:31 am

    What should never happen again either, is a politician going before the electorate and having being rejected, is force back upon said, by being made a minister.

  2. Tony Webster July 11, 2015 at 7:33 am

    @CCC: help me out muh bruthuh: what is the definition of a sycophant? A political hack? A yard -fowl? A man who is “”willfully-blind”? One who hears no evil ; sees no evil; and will only speak evil if a loaded gun be pointed at him? How about a guy would not recognise reality if it bit him in the a**? Try me on a “skipper”who sees a reef dead-head in de ruff waters…and sez “Steady as she goes, my mateys”.

    De band playing a different tune, my bruthuh…and its time to dance…or leff de place and go home.

  3. some guy July 11, 2015 at 7:37 am

    She has a point.

  4. Carl Harper July 11, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Dr Byer, if Sanitation workers should come off strike, the BIDC workers should also return to work to facilitate dialogue.

    You are being partial in your support for BIDC. No wonder you can never resolve an industrial dispute. Why didn’t you escalate it to the PM since you asked him to intervene? He’s not “injecting” himself, right?

    Now you see why the PM put you under the bus and come out smelling like a rose.

  5. jrsmith July 11, 2015 at 10:48 am

    @,Carl,H, hail, hail, right on the button, I must add to this , If BIDC was a in the private sector, there would be some chance of an early settlement of this dispute,

    Comments by a few politicians are showing us all ,that there was no real concern as to whether the unions took action or not.

    The minister for labour, should just stop talking. She is just showing how the people of Barbados are paying for failure. and as like most politicians,when they decide to talk ,just dig they own graves.

    • Carl Harper July 11, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Correct, jrsmith.

  6. Winston Arthur Trechane July 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Of two attitudes by the Honourable Minister of Labour of the Government of Barbados, the People of Barbados may decide which one Dr. Esther Byer is imposing on them.
    Attitude number one; she refuses unilaterally to assume the posture of a competent mediator of the confrontation between two public entities that are constituted within the scope of her attributions. Whether workers remain in the exercise of their right to industrial action (strike) or choose to interrupt said action, whilst their representatives engage in negotiations, is of no concern to the mediator. The pressure caused by the actual situation will not be adjusted to more or less on account of the workers preference to continue or to interrupt the exercise of their statutory right.
    Attitude number two; she attempts to create confusion of what is precedent as prior commitment in the dispute and in the process of resolving it by inflating the importance of a mere protocol of Social Partnership above and beyond the force of the Parliamentary Legislation of the Employment Rights Act. She is tied up in the web of a dissonant administration whose leader finds it a jolly application of strategy to side slip from the arena of polemics. Now that she has been forced out of her inertia she is bewildered by the infinite possibilities of movement and has naturally gone the wrong way.

  7. carson c cadogan July 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I was very vex with Ester for sitting down in so called talks with these nutcases.

    I am delighted that it wont happen again under the present poisoned conditions.

  8. dave July 12, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    Delcia Burke did not say what you said she said Mr(Mrs) Carson C Cadogan. Stop spreading propaganda or improperganda but in any case the Union will take no advice from Margaret Knight nor George Pilgrim because such advice is bound to be partisan . We should not reduce everything to partisan politics .

  9. dave July 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Tony Webster !
    Do not fool yourself ! CCC is no male .

    This is a trick used by the DLP operatives to fool people because they are so lies -bent that they cant even help telling such a lie as to who they will be on Social media. I am not fooled though. Don’t be fooled


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