Last stop

Byer-Suckoo gets final call on airport strike

A temporary hold has been placed on industrial action, which threatens to disrupt operations at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).

Today, the National Council of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) – which is the union’s decision-making body – met and decided to put a hold on threatened strike action, pending the outcome of mediation talks on Monday to be chaired by Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo.

Earlier this week, talks between the NUPW and the GAIA management broke down at the level of the Chief Labour Officer Vincent Burnett, throwing the impasse wide open.

However, during a two-hour meeting this afternoon at the union’s Dalkeith Road, St Michael headquarters, it was decided that Byer-Suckoo would get the final call on the airport strike.

“We discussed the impasse with the National Council and updated it on the dispute and asked them if we should go to the meeting [with the Minister of Labour] or take further action.

“The Council told us to follow the process and go to the meeting and try to see if we can negotiate a settlement,” the NUPW’s Acting General Secretary Delcia Burke told Barbados TODAY afterwards.

Asked if the union would be sticking to its demand of a 3.5 per cent wage increase dating back to 2010/2011, Burke replied: “That is our position that the workers are owed, but the union is open to negotiation.”

Pressed to state whether the NUPW would be willing to compromise on its demand, Burke said it depends on the position taken by the airport’s management.

“We have met recently with the Chief Labour Officer. We also met with GAIA Inc. at the domestic level. We did not reach any sort of consensus and we are hoping there would be room for some sort of negotiation when we meet with the Minister on Monday,” she told Barbados TODAY.

The two sides remain at odds over the 3.5 per cent pay increase, which the NUPW insists that the airport workers are due. However, management of GAIA Inc. has been maintaining that the offer was taken off the table during a December 2010 meeting chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

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