Tough choice

Arawak Cement downsizes

The St Lucy-based Arawak Cement Company Ltd is to make 20 per cent of its staff redundant from October 23, casualties of a comprehensive restructuring programme.

The company announced today that it was forced to send home 40 employees in order to save the plant from going under. But Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Roslyn Smith told Barbados TODAY her union and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) would hold a joint meeting with the management next week on the matter.

However, Smith said the NUPW would meet the affected employees prior to those talks to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the move.

Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Roslyn Smith.
Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW)
Roslyn Smith.

“I can confirm that we received correspondence from the Arawak Cement Plant regarding the downsizing of the plant.  They wrote requesting that we have a joint meeting with the NUPW and the BWU sometime next week,” the NUPW leader told Barbados TODAY.

General Manager of the company Rupert Greene has blamed the high cost of energy and labour as the two largest components affecting the company.

Greene said the plant’s “visibility” was at risk unless the current mode of operation was significantly transformed.

General Manager of the Arawak Cement Company Ltd Rupert Greene.
General Manager of the Arawak Cement Company Ltd Rupert Greene.

He contended that the restructuring programme demanded the implementation of efficiencies in operational processes for the production of cement and the containment of costs.

“It is aimed to achieve a reversal in the level of losses, improve operational efficiencies, repositioning for competitiveness in the domestic market and reclaiming market share in export markets,” he pointed out.

The general manager said the company had been recording significant losses since 2008, while its costs of production was significantly higher than the other subsidiaries in the parent TCL group.

He noted that the selection of employees for redundancy would be done in accordance with the collective agreements between the BWU and NUPW and that all levels of staff were being affected.

“The company will be meeting with employee representatives shortly to consult on the restructuring programme,” he added.

Greene gave the assurance that although the plant was financially challenged, it would endeavour to provide all the entitlements due to those being affected, as well as counselling and support services to assist them in making the transition.

The cement plant is the second company within the past 24 hours to announce its intention to restructure operations. Yesterday, the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) said it was going the same route. And today, Barbados TODAY obtained further details of the plan.

The NUPW’s Roslyn Smith acknowledged she had received correspondence from the SSA which said it was in the process of undertaking a comprehensive restructuring and reorganization of its operations.

The memorandum said the primary purpose of the changes was to transition to an energy-oriented organization, with optimum use of existing resources, while at the same time identifying future resources to achieve its goal.

To this end, the authority will be undertaking a comprehensive analysis in four areas – its legal framework, the physical environment, operational environment and management capabilities.

The memorandum assured the workers and their bargaining agent that the SSA would keep them informed of developments regarding the proposed restructuring.

Smith has said she doubted any of the workers would be sent home as part of the restructuring.

3 Responses to Tough choice

  1. Sue Donym August 20, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Does the task of improving operational efficiencies ever involve trimming the fat at the top and management pay cuts?

    We were constantly told that Arawak cement quality was excellent and to maintain and gain market share regionally, their pricing saw Bajans paying higher prices than the export markets.

    Something is flawed in the rhetoric, because each time Barbadians were asked to take another price increase it came with the ‘saving local jobs’ tag line. Well, can some of our neighbours take a little of the discomfort or will we always be the loss leader?

  2. carson c cadogan August 20, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I waiting on the Trade Unions to inform their members of an impending shut down of the Island. I am waiting to hear from the Trade Unions which days they intend to march in Bridgetown. Even though the garbage pickup situation in the Country has slowly improve I am waiting to hear from the Trade Unions which week they are stopping the SSA from collecting garbage across Barbados.

    After all we dealing with 40 persons of all ages going home.

  3. Tony Webster August 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Bets open: Five will get you ten…mo’ folks gine home. Unless, perhaps, both entities can swing a loan from Central Bank…whichin’ got loads of cash-for-gold…er…sorry, cash from bonds. In which case…bets off.
    PS: advise against holdin’ bref.


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