No resolution

BIDC says row with NUPW not settled

The board of management of the state-owned Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC)  today insisted that there had been no resolution to its long-standing dispute with the island’s main public sector union, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW),  over the “forced” retirement of ten employees over the age of 60.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, BIDC Chairman Benson Straker suggested there was no ambiguity to the offer made to the NUPW at Tuesday’s sub-committee meeting of the Social Partnership, not to act on the letters of retirement issued to the workers.

That same evening during a joint press conference by the NUPW and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), NUPW President Akanni McDowall announced “agreement was reached that the letters issued to some BIDC workers forcing them into retirement will be withdrawn [and] the workers will therefore remain as full employees of BIDC”.

NUPW President Akanni McDowall
NUPW President Akanni McDowall

McDowall had also said the way had been cleared for fresh talks between BIDC and the NUPW, while Acting General Secretary Roslyn Smith announced an end to industrial action, including a national strike planned for the following day.

But today, the corporation chairman echoed a statement issued yesterday by Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer, that the union’s pronouncement did not fully reflect the offer on which the workers’ representative organization based its decision to call off the planned strike.

Straker maintained that there could not have been a resolution when the BIDC’s offer clearly stated that it was ready and willing to meet as early as the following day [yesterday] to resolve the dispute in the shortest possible time, while at the same time agreeing to suspend proposed court action and allow the ten “to remain full employees since they were already being paid until September 30”.

The corporation chairman said the government-run entity was still waiting on the union for that meeting.

“We hand-delivered a letter, and also faxed it to the union for a meeting yesterday. We did not meet yesterday. . . we are still awaiting word from the union,” he said, adding that up this morning, the NUPW had not responded to the invitation.

NUPW Acting Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond said last night he was “shocked and disturbed” at the Minister’s statement, accusing her of creating uncertainty in the industrial relations process with the corporation.

Wayne Walrond
Wayne Walrond

Walrond said the union’s executive was meeting last night to discuss the matter and formulate a response, but that meeting ended prematurely when an envelope, addressed to Smith, and containing a powdery substance, was delivered to the union headquarters.

What followed was a lockdown of the compound well into today, after security forces and emergency services were summoned to the Dalkeith Road headquarters to investigate. .

Up to late this afternoon, no business could have been conducted at the faciity as police continued their investigations.

Health authorities told Barbados TODAY that testing of the powdery substance was taking place at three different laboratories to determine what it was.

6 Responses to No resolution

  1. harry turnover July 17, 2015 at 7:57 am

    That is exactly what I have been saying there IS STILL NO SETTLEMENT .

    Both Byer and the Unions say there IS a settlement. The Unions got confused thinking that ” NOT ACTED UPON ” meant that the letters were withdrawn,that is why Ms Byer kept on saying that that offer was supposed to be brought before the Unions General Council BEFORE any announcement of a settlement could have been made.
    …….and I am sure that if it had been done ,SOMEBODY would have told him that withdrawn is NOT the same thing as ” not acted upon ”
    So this is NOT a victory for the UNIONS,it was a victory for Ms. Byer.

  2. Joseph Harding July 17, 2015 at 8:30 am

    I am not surprised.

  3. Carl Harper July 17, 2015 at 10:57 am

    BIDC chairman Benson Straker and labor minister Dr Esther Byer are both caught in semantics over the 10 employees returning to their jobs. How else can they return to work at BIDC if the letters that terminated/retired them are not rescinded?

    In addition the meeting between BIDC and NUPW could not have taken place because of the unidentified white powdery substance from an unknown source that was sent to the union’s headquarters. The building was on lockdown by police for most of the day and was treated as a crime scene.

    In the meantime, prepare the letters for the 10 employees to return to the BIDC on or before October 1.

    • Olutoye Walrond July 18, 2015 at 1:12 am

      Carl, I think you should read the report again. How can you prepare letters for workers to return to work when the issue is still unresolved?

  4. Patrick Blackman July 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    @harry turnover -on the ball again, man they cannot stop you, good reasoning my friend (smile)

  5. Winston Arthur Trechane July 18, 2015 at 12:35 am

    It didn’t take the BIDC more than twenty four hours to play the first trick of the second half of the game. If they reject the NUPW’s interpretation and terminology of their proposal that the retirement process is no longer of effect, then they’re up to some scallywagging. As corporations don’t back down or give in easily or without a fight they have machinated tactics to keep their original decision to forcefully and illegitimately retire those ten workers intact, with just a temporary suspension of acting upon the retirement notice.

    Now if Dr. Byer had had a pre-meeting “briefing” encounter or contact with the directors of BIDC that would explain why she jumped into the pit once again to arbitrate against the Union’s expression of its understanding of the BIDC proposal. The space-time element of this invented idiomatic bone pulling had already served its purpose when the NUPW digressed from the national shutdown action. That can be taken up again at anytime the BIDC instigates for it to be done.

    The letters in question have to be administratively revoked on protocol to totally lose their effect without being resuscitated as a reference by any future unconstitutional attempt to discriminate against the targeted workers. It is with this condition that the matter should be presented to the judicial courts for appreciation. The workers must not be placed hanging in limbo while the judicial system decides the dispute since they are not the cause of said dispute. Rather, the cause of the dispute was perpetrated by an irregularity contravened against parliamentary legislation by BIDC. The corporation must now inquire from the Court of Justice whether it is legally permitted to emit such letters of its intentions.
    The required temporal procedure must in no way be of harm to the ten workers, even if it proceeds in regime of urgency.

    On the other hand the role of the Union is to represent its class of workers in the tribunal as a participative observer to the judicial deliberation on the issue.


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