Square one

It appears talks between the Transport Board and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), aimed at finding ways to minimize the impact of retrenchment at the state-run agency, are still at square one.

Indication of this after talks, which started just before 2 p.m. today between the two at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters, ended with suggestions that no further progress had been made than when the two first sat around the table.

Emerging from the meeting around 6 p.m., the Transport Board’s marketing and communications manager Lynda Holder told journalists that talks had been “cordial” and that the Board would “continue to have discussions with [the union] until we can all agree on the process”.

“We are still exploring [the various] options. There have been some additional options put on the table, and we will go back and look at those options again. As I had said previously, we had asked persons to come to us with voluntary separation and we are giving persons the opportunity to do that, knowing all of the information that they need to know,” she said.

That “information” being referred to is, in this case, inducements to make any prospect of a voluntary separation more attractive to the persons involved.

This option had been raised during a joint meeting over a month ago between Government and the joint unions, but to date, despite there being the assurance that such a stance would be taken into consideration, there has been no word on Government’s position on the matter.

Sir Roy told the media this evening that this matter of inducements had been put on the table with the management of the Transport Board and there had to be “a break for further consultation and our meetings will continue sometime in the future”.

“On our part there is every intention to treat as humanely as we possibly can with the problem, but we do not intend to allow ourselves to be bulldozed or otherwise forced into making decisions that are not the best decisions which are possible in this current set of circumstances. We are still trying to free up the numbers and a very large element within the inducement package has been missing in that the management was not able to discuss with the workers when it offered them voluntary separation.”

He suggested that as a result the workers having heard from us about the package determined that they wanted to have the full proposal which needed to include the enhancement package.

Describing the Board’s management as professional in its approach, Sir Roy said much work still had to be done, adding that the Board had shown that it was not adverse to disclosure and full discussion with the union.

“The problem on this occasion is that the Transport was not fully aware of those levels of inducements that the union has made reference to, and what appears to me to have been a classic weakness in this exercise is that, we have had discussions with public officials, political and administrative, but that when the target group were instructed by letter; that appears to [be what] happened.

“It doesn’t appear to us, as though people sat down and walked the individuals, the leaders of the boards and of the various department of Government, through the discussion on what the intentions were coming out of those discussions, towards a body of proposals that would have taken us beyond a position of ‘we say so you have to take it either our way or the highway’. The officials regrettably have walked as far as I can see away from the approach that was had in good faith and with an understanding that honesty and integrity had formed the hallmark of those discussion,” Sir Roy further lamented.

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