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Airport talks take off at a higher level

Chief Labour Officer Vincent Burnett today met separately with the two parties in the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc. (GAIA) pay dispute, in the hope of arriving at an amicable settlement.

This morning, Burnett held talks with top officials of GAIA before sitting down with representatives of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) this afternoon.

“The [NUPW] meeting lasted for almost three hours. They [Labour Department] wanted to hear our side of the story [after hearing from] GAIA management in the morning time. So Monday, at 9.30 a.m., they are going to hear both parties together and see if they can find some compromise or some decision,” one union official, who is close to the talks, told Barbados TODAY.

In support of its demand for a 3.5 per cent pay increase dating back five years, the NUPW official said: “We brought all the proof that we had. The proof about the Budgetary statement, the Central Bank showing of growth, the Minister of Finance showing economic growth during the first half of 2011, which is what we are sticking to.”

The two sides differ on the outcome of a December 2010 meeting chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

GAIA contends that the 3.5 per cent was taken off the table while the union said the increase would only be paid if the economy improved.

However, while Government is maintaining that the desired growth has not yet been realized, the union is contending otherwise. Based on January 4, 2010 letter it further insists that the pay increase was never taken off the table.

Today, neither the NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith nor President Akanni McDowall could be reached for comment. When contacted tonight, GAIA Corporate Communications Specialist Keith Goddard declined to comment at this stage.

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