Unions to join forces to fight for appointments

Barbadian public workers can expect a joint effort by their trade unions to secure overdue appointments throughout the civil service.

The promise came yesterday evening from President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) Cedric Murrell, as he brought greetings to the 41st Annual Conference of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT).

He made mention of a previous call by BUT president Pedro Shepherd for teachers’ posts and increments to be addressed.

President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations Cedric Murrell
President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations Cedric Murrell

The CTUSAB president said: “We can extend that through the Congress to the entire public sector because the question of appointments is a very sore issue. The Congress is very firm with you on that matter and very shortly we intend to join the fray.”

Shepherd again raised that matter at the opening of the conference.

Murrell, speaking before him, said it was a burning issue despite Government’s “reasons, to some extent, or excuses why these appointments are not being made”.

The CTUSAB head spoke of a wish for interim measures to be put in place to ensure public workers awaiting their appointments could conduct private transactions with confidence.

“We believe in the Congress . . . that, in the absence of members of the union being able to gain salary increases, then certainly security and the ability to go to any business place and present a letter to say that you are employed, and not employed only for a term or a year,” he said.

Shepherd told the opening of the BUT conference that Government could not use the current economic crisis as an excuse for denying workers their rights.

BUT president Pedro Shepherd addressing the teachers’ conference.
BUT president Pedro Shepherd

“Each one of us has a right to employment, a right to associate, a right to bargain, a right to a safe and healthy environment to work and, most of all, a right to a decent standard of living,” the trade union leader said.

He complained that it had been three years since the BUT concluded collective bargaining negotiations with Government, yet teachers had heard nothing from Government.

“Where is it today? No one knows. It was intended to bring together in a simple, single document all the terms and conditions of employment for teachers and contain a collection of agreed policies and procedures for the advancement of the profession,” Shepherd said.

“It spoke to areas such as qualifications, appointments, hiring and firing of teachers, leave, rights and responsibilities of employees and employers, but to date Government has not seen it fit to approve it.”

Shepherd called on CTUSAB, the umbrella trade union organization, to get Government back at the Social Partnership negotiations table.

Tied to the concern about appointments is the grievance over salary increases.

The BUT president put forward his members’ case.

“Teachers, like all other public officers, have not had an increase in salary since 2009 and we heard earlier that the civil service generally has not had an increase and everyday prices are skyrocketing and our purchasing power further and further eroded,” Shepherd said.

“We too buy gas, pay electricity bills and pay every single tax being inflicted upon the citizenry week after week in this country.”

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