BWU tells tribunal to get to work

The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) is urging the Employment Rights Tribunal to get down to business to bring an end to the “pain and suffering” of the almost 200 retrenched National Conservation Commission (NCC) employees.

At the same time, union boss Sir Roy Trotman is also warning the tribunal to ensure it clearly understands the nature of its work before one word of evidence is heard.

In a statement issued today –– in his first comments since the tribunal had its first meeting last Friday –– Sir Roy said “the BWU is concerned . . . that when the tribunal begins its work, it does so with a very clear picture of what it should be doing, by proceeding along the lines set out by the legislation and the schedules, and underpinned by normal natural and accepted industrial relations protocols and practices.”

“At the same time, we are very conscious that NCC workers have suffered tremendous pain and suffering because of what was, in our view, an act of bad faith on the part of the NCC,” Sir Roy added.

“We believe that this has caused significant pain and suffering to the workers and we feel that action should be taken speedily to resolve the issue and we have asked that those meetings be held without undue delay.”

The BWU and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) have accused the NCC of not adhering to the last-in, first-out policy in selecting which workers would be retrenched at the end of April.

The BWU team was not present at last week’s meeting, explaining thatthe tribunal had been notified that the union’s legal counsel could not attend the meeting due to the short notice given, and the union had requested that another meeting be convened at the earliest time that was mutually convenient. Sir Roy said in his statement today that the BWU had earlier indicated it wanted to have a meeting at which it would discuss the preliminaries to be examined during the hearing, with respect to practices and wanted to ensure its attorney-at-law Edmund King was present at those discussions.

“We want to have our attorney present, because this first series of meetings will set the stage for all other meetings that will be held by the Employment Rights Tribunal, and therefore, when we do it, it has to be done right from the beginning,” he emphasized.

Sir Roy said the union also wanted the tribunal to ensure it understood the role of the Chief Labour Officer in process.

“The Chief Labour Officer is not a post office merely as a clearing house, but there are requirements for the Labour Department to enter into a meaningful exercise to ensure that that office is able to resolve any disputes regarding employment rights, before the matter is sent on the tribunal,” he said.

He contended that where the Labour Department submits any matter to the tribunal, it also has to be able to present reports of its findings in an effort to facilitate and speed up the work it is required to do.


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