Unions hit back at PM

Barbados’ two major trade unions, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) have hit back at the Freundel Stuart administration, blaming the Government for the “current instability” in the country’s industrial relations climate.

Stuart led a stinging attack on the unions yesterday, comparing them to “fanatics with guns” and accussing them of adopting bullying and blackmail tactics in the row between the NUPW and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) over the forced retirement of ten employees who have reached the age of 60.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

The unions have hit back, claiming that  the administration’s “reluctance to engage in meaningful consultation” with the workers representatives has contributed “in no small measure” for the volatile atmosphere.

In a joint press release issued today, the two unions, which had threatened to shut down the country with a general strike, charged that a number of vexing issues, including “a breakdown in respect; a failure to consult; and a breach of the Barbados Social Partnership protocols and the rules underpinning the time-tested industrial relations of Barbados” have led them to this point.

The top brass of the NUPW  and BWU standing in solidarity.
The top brass of the NUPW and BWU standing in solidarity.

The two unions claimed that in June, 2013, a tripartite commitment was agreed for “full consultation” during the  retrenchment of workers in an attempt to reduce the negative impact on working families. They said a document outlining the Government’s policy on managing the retrenchment process was circulated but that too was not followed.

“This breach of faith was most glaring in the retrenchment exercise carried out at the Drainage Unit, the National Housing Corporation, the National Conservation Commisssion (NCC) and the Transport Board,” the country’s largest private and public sector unions said in their release, adding that in the cases of the NCC and the Transport Board, the consultations had begun but the process by Government departments was interrupted with “unilateral actions” to make workers redundant before final agreement was reached.

“To date these two matters remain unresolved before the Employment Rights Tribunal. Up to now neither the naysayers nor the Government have addressed the tremendous pain and suffering that the retrenched workers have undergone,” the release stated.

They dismissed the Prime Minister’s accusation of bullying, blackmail and breach of process, suggesting the administration should look in the mirror.

“Even now, while unions are being accused of applying bullying tactics and not following the process, the Government has further provoked the situation, adding insult to injury, by issuing option forms to workers at the Customs Department. This is being done even while consultations are still on-going and where commitments have been made by the Government to resolve all outstanding issues before moving to this step,”the BWU and NUPW stated in the release.

“Who really is the bully?  Who has breached the process? Who has shown disrespect?”

The unions stressed that at no time have they said that there should be no lay-offs, but they have insisted that public sector restructuring should not be done adopting “backdoor approaches”. They complained of “unfortunate statements” made in recent times by Government officials and more recently, the Barbados Light and Power Company Limited, which they said had the potential to undermine the trade union movement and its tradition of voluntarism.

Issuing a stern warning to employers in both sectors, the unions said: “Workers of Barbados will therefore need to make a strong statement that such approaches have no place in our industrial relations system; there must be an expressed commitment to consultation; decisions must be people-centred and the workers who have built this countrymust be respected.”

However, they offered a hint of conciliation by assuring employers that they remained commited to the “least painful resolutions” to the impasse with the BIDC, adding that the statutory board’s offer of an extension of payment until December addresses a part of the issue.

The unions had threatened a national strike on Wednesday or Thursday if the impasse was not resolved by then.

6 Responses to Unions hit back at PM

  1. dave July 15, 2015 at 1:54 am

    Mant of us were eagerly awaiting the action by the Union. Long Overdue. This inept , corrupt and backward administration must go.

  2. jus me July 15, 2015 at 7:49 am

    WHO will take over when Stuart drops dead??

    Apparently he “shoots up” on insulin,his demeanor is of a petty Dictator, violently unstable,his charactor is mean and vengeful.
    He is not good under stress and uses the language of a badly educated “would be” academic.
    Has been a moderate lawyer,so obviously totally used to getting money for doing virtually nothing; a characteristic he has carried into the office of the Premiership of our country.

    It crosses my mind he is a Prime Candidate for the funeral home.

  3. Alec Pierre July 15, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Bravo to the leaders and members of the BWU & NUPW who have shown that Leadership has been restored at those two institutions. We the people have been disrespected, denigrated even insulted for being investors in “good faith” in one of the biggest conglomerates in The Caribbean. We have been called “greedy” we have been in a situation where the leadership of this country was criminalizing the humans and humanizing the criminals in that sordid affair. We the people MUST continue to show in a very real way that the government is there to serve us and not to DICTATE to and insult us. Nuff said for now!

  4. Tony Waterman July 15, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Does our “ESTEEMED” Prime Minister, still thinks that the Unions are Bullying, now that BIDC has for all intent and purposes admitted that they were the CAUSE of this whole Fiasco, in the first place, and if so, is it not the right time for him to do the RIGHT thing and STEP ASIDE, now that he is 64 years of age, or will he stay until he is at the MANDATORY/LEGAL age of Retirement which is 67.

  5. villager. July 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Wait somebody told me that the BIDC workers do not want to go back to work? So what does this mean?you mean that this was some agenda being played out without the knowledge of these workers?Why was there a threat to shut down this country?Was this all about egos and trying to force someone’s agenda on the citizens of Barbados? Someone please tell me.

  6. Wayne Dread July 15, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Walls , premiership of an independent country? And the nerve to call our PM badly educsted,


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