BHL boss hopeful of settlement with BWU

A week after unionised workers at Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) staged a crippling walkout, CEO Richard Cozier was today expressing optimism that a lasting agreement will be reached with the workers’ bargaining agent, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), on a number of outstanding grievances.

“We have had two sets of meetings [to date]. Both have been very cordial. In one case, we have actually completed [our agenda], in another we are very close to completion with just one or two small areas that we have to get a number back here or there,” he told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.

With further meetings planned for next week, the BHL boss said: “It looks to me that within another week or two, everything would be settled to everybody’s satisfaction and we would get back to smooth sailing.”

He quickly clarified: “Not that it is not smooth at the moment, but we are still addressing some outstanding matters.”

However, he declined to go into further detail except to confirm that BHL, which is in the process of a rebranding exercise, would go ahead with a change of name tomorrow. B&B distribution is due to take on the name of the heritage brand Banks and be rebranded as Banks Distribution Limited.

Still under discussion is the company’s attempt at integration and BHL has decided to delay the planned retrenchment of two union members, pending the outcome of the negotiations with the BWU.

Last week, the union called out its members who account for more than 80 per cent of the 500-plus BHL employees.

The action took the island’s largest drinks manufacturer – which also operates Banks Barbados Breweries Limted, Barbados Bottling Company Limited and Pine Hill Dairy – by surprise, on one of its biggest production days, and was said to have cost the company “six-digit” losses.

Today, BWU general secretary Toni Moore could not be reached for comment.

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