Smith: Immigration looking to derail protest
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is accusing the leadership of the Immigration Department of attempting to undermine the industrial relations process.
General Secretary Roslyn Smith Friday complained that the recently appointed Chief Immigration Officer Wayne Marshall, who took up the post on September 1, had denied a request for permission for officers to attend a union meeting.
“We had a meeting this afternoon with representatives of the immigration and the customs [departments]. We know that persons would have been pre-empted from coming to the meeting.
“We had written for permission which they [Immigration Department] did not give, but we still had representation from Immigration who came to the meeting,” Smith told Barbados TODAY.
The NUPW had called out its members in customs and immigration for a meeting at its Dalkeith Road headquarters Friday, to which only a handful of members responded.
Smith said the meeting was called to update customs and immigration officers on internal issues, as well as to bring them up to speed on the ongoing dispute with Government over the reversion of NUPW President Akanni McDowall to an entry level position.
Although the trade union leader did not reveal the numbers in attendance, one person who attended the talks told Barbados TODAY there were seven customs officers and four immigration officers in attendance.
“We were still able to listen to the grievances of both customs and immigration,” Smith said.
“The immigration was able to put a ten point layout of grievances, which we promised we would take into the Chief Immigration Officer. As you know Customs has ongoing issues with regards to a transition to BRA [Barbados Revenue Authority].”
The veteran trade unionist said the officers pledged their support to McDowall, and she confirmed that industrial action would begin tomorrow at the ports of entry in the form of a go slow.
Pressed to say how much pressure had been applied to its members over their participation in the ongoing industrial dispute, Smith said temporary workers were the most.
“There would have been pressure placed on the temporary persons, but be that as it may, the issues are real and we are satisfied with the commitment of the representatives. We even had a representative from the airport who have committed to the support of the cause. We have strong representatives throughout the public service,” Smith warned.
However, the NUPW General Secretary declined to confirm whether the unions had orchestrated protest action to coincide with the visit this month of Britain’s Prince Harry.