NCC workers have suffered enough, says McDowall

President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall is hoping that the Employment Rights Tribunal will reinstate the 80 retrenched National Conservation Commission

(NCC) workers who took their case to that body.

After a hiatus of more than two months, the stalled hearing into the severance of the NCC workers is to resume on December 16, with the final sitting scheduled for December 17.

McDowall told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that when the hearing resumes on Wednesday, former NUPW General Secretary Dennis Clarke will conclude his evidence, followed by NCC General Manager Keith Neblett.

The NUPW head said he was confident that the Tribunal would issue a verdict by the end of the year and he anticipated good news for the severed employees.

“Once Neblett concludes his evidence, I think we should be able to have a judgment before the end of the year. I would hope that the judgment would be in favour of the NCC workers. I think they would have suffered enough and it is hoped that they would be reinstated to give them a good Christmas,” he said.   

There has been uncertainty over the continued engagement of Pat Cheltenham, QC, as the union’s lawyer at the hearing. However, McDowall gave the severed workers the assurance that the prominent attorney-at- law was still being retained by the NUPW to present their case.

Hearings on the matter began on September 30 in the Marigold Room of the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St Michael, with general worker Cutie Lynch giving evidence before the Tribunal, which was chaired by attorney-at-law Hal Gollop, QC, and includes Edward Bushell and Beverley Beckles.

Lynch was cross-examined by Cheltenham and attorney-at-law Mitchell Codrington, who was retained by the NCC.

At that sitting Cheltenham focused on the NCC management’s failure to adhere to sections of the Employment Rights Act, which call for consultation before workers are sent home.

When the hearing was adjourned sine die on October 7 Clarke was on the witness stand for an extended period fielding questions from Gollop, Cheltenham and Codrington.

Tribunal officials said several attempts had since been made to resume, but this was not possible due to scheduling issues on the part of lawyers for both sides.

The NUPW wants the tribunal to rule on the decision by the NCC to send home the workers in circumstances the union deemed unfair.

This case has attracted widespread attention from the beginning, particularly because of the perceived political considerations in selecting those who were retrenched.

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