Union warns of possible strike over Kensington Oval affair
With a Government-ordered probe under way into the operations of the state-run Kensington Oval Management Incorporated (KOMI), the bargaining agent for the staff there has now warned of possible industrial action if worker concerns were not quickly addressed.
“Nothing is off the table,” Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Dwaine Paul told Barbados TODAY Wednesday morning, when asked what action would be taken to resolve a litany of staff complaints against KOMI’s management.
“In terms of our investigation, the BWU is very concerned with the present state of operations at KOMI, especially the relationship between the management and the staff,” Paul said, adding that in some cases employees had been threatened and verbally abused.
The senior union official said the BWU was currently dealing with an issue involving management and staff that was of particular concern, although he did not offer details.
“We also have heard from staff, very troubling accounts of the manner in which the facility is being administered, and we would leave those types of accounts to be looked into further by the appointed person by the Ministry [of Sports]. But for us, we are very concerned about the labour issues and we will definitely be seeking resolution to those matters, because the environment is one that is really not conducive to any proper working relationship at this time.”
Paul said that having already reached out to Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley regarding the findings of the BWU’s investigations into the company that manages the home of cricket, he would shortly send a more comprehensive document to the minister.
“We will communicate with the minister and send him a full paper in terms of what our concerns are,” Paul told Barbados TODAY.
He said a lot of what staff had outlined in an unsigned letter to Lashley last month, was consistent with what the union had identified in its own review and discussions on the matter. The trade unionist also disclosed that KOMI chairman Anthony Waldron – who had been ordered by Lashley to urgently probe the company’s operations – had begun the investigation. “In terms of the investigation, we understand that the chairman has been instructed and has reached out to the staff as it relates to that matter. I understand the chairman has reached out to the staff to have discussions,” he said.
Late last month, Paul had said that because of the troubling findings of his investigations, he also wanted a forensic audit of KOMI.
Paul had met on April 7 last year with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Ruth Blackman to try to resolve the concerns of the staff.
The six-page letter from staff dated February 22, 2017 also raised concerns about the Permanent Secretary’s handling of the workers’ grievances, saying Blackman had not kept her promise to convene follow up talks with their union.
Having failed to get a response from Blackman, they decided to turn to Lashley, the letter stated.
The correspondence included a number of serious allegations which Barbados TODAY decided not to publish because of the legal implications.
However, there were questions raised about the ethics involved in some business decisions, and concerns about the company’s direction and its financial viability, with the authors making it clear there was a crisis of confidence at KOMI.
Late last month, Lashley had revealed that he had instructed the KOMI chairman to carry out an investigation into the contents of the unsigned letter.
Lashley had also said he expected the chairman to submit a report in the shortest possible time.
KOMI’s Chief Executive Officer Ben Toppin has already made it clear to Barbados TODAY he had no intention of commenting on the matter.