Step in!

Calls for a third party to settle raging industrial dispute

As Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) braces for a possible major disruption to its operations tomorrow, a top official of the island’s largest public sector trade union is recommending the appointment of a special independent mediator to help speed up settlements in industrial disputes.

Treasurer of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Asokore Beckles told Barbados TODAY Thursday afternoon there was urgent need for an independent mediator who can bring together disputing parties and broker a resolution within a reasonable period.

This would help to stave off the kind of industrial action currently facing the ports of entry, Beckles said.

NUPW Treasurer Asokore Beckles
NUPW Treasurer Asokore Beckles

While a sick-out continues at the airport over deadlocked pay talks on behalf of the 400 GAIA employees, stepped up action postponed from Thursday due to bad weather will now go ahead Friday, the NUPW has threatened.

“Contrary to popular belief, unions don’t like to strike, but one has to use such action as a last resort when there is no other way out or when it takes very long for the other party to respond to requests for meetings,” Beckles told Barbados TODAY.

Asked about the role of the Employment Rights Tribunal in certain disputes, he said not only was the tribunal too costly, but that it dragged on for much too long before reaching a decision.

“That NCC [National Conservation Commission] unfair dismissal case cost the union thousands and thousands of dollars,” the union executive pointed out.

There has been increased tension between the NUPW and Government over the reversion of the union’s president Akanni McDowall to a junior post in the public service.

The issue has been compounded by a breakdown in wage talks between the union and GAIA, resulting in a go-slow at both the air and sea ports and a sick out at the airport. And the union has promised to up the ante if its demand for a 16 per cent pay hike for the 400 airport employees was not met.

A union official who requested anonymity has told Barbados TODAY the NUPW was anxious for the pay impasse to end.

“We are hoping this matter could be resolved soon. We want to get back to the bargaining table . . . we want the management to come back with a full offer, rather than trying to tie the airport workers to the central Government service where the conditions of employment are entirely different,” the official said.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

GAIA has countered the union’s 16 per cent pay rise demand with an offer 15.5 per cent.

However, the union has said that Cabinet recently rejected both positions and proposed offering GAIA employees whatever wage settlement was agreed for public servants.

Just Wednesday, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley expressed fear that the current industrial action could undermine business confidence as she called on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to step in and resolve the matter.

“On this current dispute I must say that the Government has a duty to step in and urgently resolve it rather than letting it fester. The consequences of failing to act are simply too great, and it is too easy for the Prime Minister, as Minister of Civil Service, to solve,” she told the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon at the Hilton Barbados Resort.

Mottley also appealed to the country’s labour unions and private sector, who along with Government make up this island’s Social Partnership, not to allow intimidatory tactics to take root.

In fact she said the Social Partnership was key to restoring the industrial relations climate that was now spiralling out of control and threatening to undermine the confidence necessary to do business here.

“The Social Partnership must not stand back and allow a climate of intimidation of labour leaders or members of the private sector who voice their disagreement with Government on certain issues,” Mottley said in apparent reference to recent comments by Stuart, who recently described the go-slow as attempted ambush and warned that Government was not about to lie down and play dead in the face of the perceived strong-arm approach by the union.

Meanwhile, the union official revealed that the sick-out among immigration, customs and environmental health officers at the ports of entry in solidarity with McDowall was unlikely to spread at this stage, as the Civil Service had scheduled a meeting next week with the NUPW.

Barbados TODAY understands that the Barbados Workers’ Union, the Barbados Union of Teachers and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union have been requesting a meeting with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to discuss the McDowall matter, fearing his reversion to an entry level post could set a precedent for the rest of the public service.

14 Responses to Step in!

  1. Ronnie Warren
    Ronnie Warren November 24, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    This will lead to the US categorizing GAIA as an unsafe airport and stop American carriers from coming until the full staff is working. A serious loss of revenue not to mention the health issue. I can only shake my head…..

  2. Daniel Polonis
    Daniel Polonis November 24, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    They need to fix this…people would like to come home…

  3. Brien King
    Brien King November 25, 2016 at 3:57 am

    Wilful foolishness and greed is to blame for the ongoing dispute and life goes on, common sense appears not to be so common these days in this world but the scriptures must be fulfilled.

  4. harry turnover November 25, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Wha Stuart don know what to say or do !!

  5. jrsmith November 25, 2016 at 7:17 am

    We must all praise (Brien King) ,the scriptures must be fulfilled as god said which is coming to past , a not want to work situation at a small airport in the world …
    Our politicians is not bothered or concern, because they salaries is secured getting paid for failure , as like the management in the (NHS) in the UK…………

  6. lester November 25, 2016 at 10:55 am

    did i read right that the union want 16 and GAIA offering 15.5? so they gine shut out needed revenue for .5 %, enlighten me someone please

  7. BimJim November 25, 2016 at 11:09 am

    I got news fuh wunnun… GAIA as already Categorised as an unsafe airport… Bados is Category 2, remember? That comes from a lack of proper legislation, regulations, facilities and proper oversight to maintain standards necessary for Category 1. Did you think Bados was being neglected in all other areas and aviation was “special”? The core of aviation has been neglected for many – MANY – decades, by both the DLP and the BLP. The Bados gubmint is ridiculously incompetent, from the top to the very bottom, I don’t care how many MBAs they have.

  8. Antionette Sealy November 25, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Two ugly women causing all the problems in Barbados The one that looks like a vexed Donald Duck calls for a strike if she hears thunder. She expects a lightning strike to follow. If voluntarism no longer works, settlements must be done via a labour court or an industrial court. This nonsense must stop.

  9. Carson C Cadogan November 25, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    I am of the considered opinion that the NUPW is being led by mad people.

    After they lit the industrial fire at the ports of entry now they are urgently calling for the Fire Service.

    The Govt. of Barbados will not sit down to talk to anyone under duress. The blackmail tactics of the NUPW will not allowed to work. The NUPW will have to call off their dogs first.

    They now belatedly realise that they have put the cart before the horse.

  10. Realist November 25, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Shame on you Antoinette Sealy. Shame on you. I hope you have a full length mirror, a spanner and such like to fix the tires around you waist. Take a shower while you are at it. These ugly women that look just like you are fighting for the rights of lots of people especially women in Barbados. Go and know your place Antoinette.

    • Carson C Cadogan November 25, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      The truth is nothing to be ashamed of.

      If they are two ugly women then they are two ugly women. I dont see what Antoinette should be ashamed of.

      And I would add that they speak ugly too.

  11. Sherlock Holmes. November 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    HMMM i tell ya lol.

  12. Helicopter(8P) November 28, 2016 at 10:57 am

    There’s a motto written in scroll at the foot of the Coat of Arms of Barbados. This motto is definitely not in the minds of the personal self greed

  13. Hal Austin November 29, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Why are the unions asking for a 16 per cent pay rise. Is this number plucked out of thin air? In the UK, wages are still at the 2008 level, excluding inflation. In the US it is still in the 1970s level, also excluding inflation.
    In Britain, a 2.1 per cent increase pre 2008 has led to a vast improvement in living standards.
    If NUPW labour economists have different figures, plse make them public.
    What do the politicians have to say about this row? What is the BLP view?


Leave a Reply

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