NUPW takes the gloves off

The island’s largest public sector trade union, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), has threatened a more militant approach to dealing with “delinquent” employers.

General Secretary Roslyn Smith warned public sector heads this afternoon that the union would no longer tolerate those who dishonour collective bargaining agreements.

Smith’s threat was issued as a row with the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc (GAIA) appeared to be emerging over the airport’s failure to pay its workers a 3.5 per cent pay rise agreed between the two sides in 2010.

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.

“When you deny a worker their wages, it means then that you are putting them at the mercies of landlords and things like that. The law says when you work you should be paid, alright. So going forward next year, I would not be tolerating those persons who fail to follow the agreements between the union and Government. I intend to take a hard stand,” a seemingly upset Smith told Barbados TODAY.

Smith was particularly peeved at the heads of various Government departments who she accused of disrespecting the NUPW by refusing to respond “in a timely manner” to correspondence sent to them by the union.

She argued that these senior public officers ought to know that it was their duty to acknowledge and respond to the union, something she contended happened in the past with the then Establishments Division. However, she said things had changed for the worse.

“You would find that three, six months pass and these heads of sections fail to respond. I think that is disrespectful . . . it is impeding the workers’ grievances from being resolved. At the end of the day then, you’ll have workers feel you are not doing anything to have their matters looked at and come to some conclusion. So that is my stance. I will not be tolerating heads of section who fail to acknowledge the union’s correspondence within a given time,” she emphasized.

“You would find that three, six months pass and these heads of sections fail to respond. I think that is disrespectful . . . it is impeding the workers’ grievances from being resolved. At the end of the day then, you’ll have workers feel you are not doing anything to have their matters looked at and come to some conclusion. So that is my stance. I will not be tolerating heads of section who fail to acknowledge the union’s correspondence within a given time,” she emphasized.

The union boss made reference to one incident in which she said she called a department head regarding the non-payment of wages to an employee over a two-month period and left a voicemail message. And while not saying when the call was made, she complained that “to date, I have not heard anything” from that officer.

“When it comes to non-payment of workers, to me, at this Christmas time [in particular], persons have expectations, they have their rent to pay and things like that,” the NUPW head said.

Smith warned that the union intended to do all that was necessary to ensure the GAIA paid the workers what is due to them. In the meantime, she has called on the Freundel Stuart Administration to authorize the outstanding payment.

“Staff were asked to hold strain on the second tranche because their counterparts in the public sector did not receive a wage increase,” she noted.

She pointed to reports which indicate that GAIA Inc, a private company in which the Government is the sole shareholder, was profitable in each of the past five years.

Smith said the NUPW has met with GAIA Chief Executive Officer David Barrow and has made it clear the union intended to recover the debt before the end of the year. She also said that during a recent courtesy call on Prime Minister Stuart, the issue was also brought to his attention.

“The NUPW is awaiting word on how soon this debt will be paid and is hopeful that this matter can be settled by the end of December 2015,” Smith said. emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

One Response to NUPW takes the gloves off

  1. dave December 22, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Some of the Heads of Government Departments in Barbados are the worst Human Beings on Earth. They have a very nasty dismissive attitude and come across worst than the slave masters did. They feel not answering correspondence and dodging questions is a clever exercise. They are responsible for a lot of foolishness in the Public Service and they need to be replaced because they are not going to change. Some -not all.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *