Still no settlement to Apes Hill controversy
There is still no settlement to the Apes Hill impasse.
However, management of the St James luxury facility and representatives of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) actually sat down at the bargaining table for an hour and a half of talks this morning, following a four-year break in negotiations, and a recent escalation of their industrial impasse.
Earlier this week, as the tensions reached boiling point, the BWU issued a strong statement accusing the company of engaging in “industrial terrorism” and practising “mental and economic slavery” against workers.
In a strongly worded statement in which it raised the race card, the BWU also expressed “alarm and distress” at the Apes Hill Club’s management’s behaviour, charging that it was attempting to trample workers’ rights.
In an equally strong response, Apes Hill developer Sir Charles Williams hit back yesterday at the union and its members, who have been refusing to work since last Friday.
He told Barbados TODAY he was now at the point of total frustration.
In fact, he threatened to shut down the entire Apes Hill project and send home all 400 employees, while complaining bitterly about ingrates and laggards.
“They were working . . . they came to work for us as slavery. We have given them the opportunity to go through apprenticeship, to improve their position in life,” he insisted.
However, following today’s talks chaired by Chief Labour Officer Vincent Burnett, outstanding issues of pay and conditions of employment remained unresolved.
What the two sides did agree on though, was to meet again to try to settle the differences, which sparked a three-day work stoppage by more than 40 maintenance staff.
Executive Director of the Barbados Employers Confederation Tony Walcott represented the company at today’s talks, described by Deputy General Secretary of the BWU Dwaine Paul as “cordial”.
“We have reviewed the matter and we are going to continue discussions towards concluding the outstanding issues between the parties,” Paul said.
Asked if any progress was made in resolving the issue of BWU recognition, Paul replied: “The meeting did not go that far.
“The meeting today was, as I said, for us to determine a way forward; that has been agreed upon and we will be meeting very shortly to continue discussions on the outstanding matters.”
He could not give a precise date for the next round of talks, but suggested they would occur “between now and next week”.