BIDC not backing down

The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) is sticking to its guns in its showdown with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), reiterating today that it would not recall retirement letters given to 10 employees who have reached the age of 60.

The BIDC’s board of directors and senior management met with Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss for over two-and-a-half hours at their Harbour Road headquarters this afternoon, and reaffirmed its position on the issue.

Inniss later told the media that the BIDC was proceeding to lodge the matter in court tomorrow, and was hoping for an expedited process.

Minister of International Business Donville Inniss (left) and President of the Barbados International Business Association Connie Smith at today’s press conference.
Minister of International Business Donville Inniss

“We expect that this matter will be treated by the court as an urgent matter, but of course that is entirely up to the court to decide. We cannot sit here and dictate to the court what, how, or when they should do matters. But I’m satisfied that it is of enough significant national importance for the court to treat it accordingly,” Inniss said.

The state-owned statutory body has maintained that it had the right to retire employees at age 60, while the union has insisted that the retirement age is 67.

The minister said that at today’s meeting, the BIDC’s management made it clear they would not accede to the NUPW’s demands to either rescind the letters, or pay the workers until they reach the age of 67.

“The union has stood their ground…and during discussions today the board came to a position that the BIDC’s position is that they are not prepared to do either one,” he said.

Inniss revealed that the BIDC had paid the 10 severed employees up until September 30, along with all other mnies owed, and that arrangements were being made for pensions to be paid effective October.

The minister also confirmed that during last week’s meeting, which was chaired by Minister of Labour Esther Byer, the BIDC had offered to extend the payment period by a few more months in the event the court had not concluded its deliberation on the matter by the end of September.

However, he said, the union rejected the offer. Inniss said the fact that the matter was headed to court was “in everybody’s best interest.”

“It would be in everybody’s best interest, not only the BIDC, but all state agencies who fall under the Statutory Pensions Act, as well as employers in other parts of the public and private sector, to have this matter deliberated on by the court and a decision reached,” he maintained. 

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