Unions tell PM to start requested dialogue

Declaring that the open season on workers must stop, the island’s trade unions today called on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to start the process of the requested dialogue without delay.

“We believe that fairness and equity are critical. We also believe that you cannot inspire sacrifice by asking persons to do one thing but at the same time doing something else yourself. If we are to tighten our belts then we must all tighten our belts together,” the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) said in a joint statement.

“The Prime Minister knows that a fair and responsible Government cannot ask any citizen, particularly the working class, to carry more than their fair share. We urge him in the interest of Barbados and all Barbadians to start the process of the requested dialogue without delay.”

The unions have been seeking to get the Stuart administration to, at the very least, cut its controversial ten per cent National Social Responsibility Levy (NRSL) by half.

“The labour movement recognizes that some sacrifices will have to be made, but it knows at the same time that it is unreasonable in a financial crisis to expect some persons to sacrifice when they have nothing left to sacrifice. To suggest that a NRSL should be increased from two per cent to ten per cent is unfortunate, misleading and draconian,” they said.

“There cannot be a general application to all and sundry whether in the private or public sectors. Some differentiations in relief and accommodations will have to be made between types of business and commercial activity, as will be the case with the most vulnerable in the society, some of whom will be workers at the bottom of the pay ladder. There cannot be a catering to the interests of business without hearing the cries of the workers. There must be a phased and shared approach to this entire exercise of adjustment.

“Furthermore, taxation should not become so burdensome as to require some coping mechanism for the vulnerable, including workers, especially if they will not yield the revenue Government is expecting, and where they will lead inexorably to a reduction in economic activity, thereby endangering our society even further,” the unions added.

Meantime, the unions said they will not be side tracked or intimidated by anyone at any time . . . and will always remain the voice of worker and those living in the vast majority of households in Barbados who are now faced with the imposition of over $500 million in revenue over a nine-month period.

“It is clear that the upward adjustment in taxes is much larger than what can be expected in the period specified by Government.  This message should not be distorted because of expediency.  Everyone should be able to recognize that it is the massive damage of the impositions which is forcing us all to shake in our boots.”

“The scale of the adjustment that must be made by the admission of the Government itself is massive. It is precisely because of the very nature of the crisis that the trade unions have consistently called upon the Government to meet urgently for a full national consultation,” the unions added.

22 Responses to Unions tell PM to start requested dialogue

  1. Saga Boy July 15, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Why don’t they stop talking and do something? The go slow will not be effective since many public servants are on a permanent go slow. This will be another failed attempt. The unions have a role to play but not one of trying to bring down a gov for political reasons.

    Last year when Massy told the BWU they were laying off 72 workers why did they not March? When FLOW did the same why they did not March? These were policy decisions and the BWU were unable to do anything. Just nuff talk. Now the Gov has announced a policy decision and all hell is about to break loose. Can you imagine that the tax is aimed at keeping jobs and the Unions are threatening industrial action.

    Reply
    • Mia July 16, 2017 at 12:43 am

      Thank you!!!!! They are picking and choosing their battles and their stance is more political than anything else.

      Reply
  2. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce July 16, 2017 at 2:16 am

    What happened to the 48 hours Deadline? And why the constant verbal diarrhoea dialogue of Long Talk? If you all cannot support the cause 100% i.e all in it together, call it a day and go thy merry way. It proves that one cannot depend on wunna in a crisis.
    There’s no Hardship, excellent Health Service, QEH good standard of equipment and medical supplies, sewage plant, roads,Transport Board, BWA well maintained, low Crime Rate, low unemployment, excellent education system and work ethic, salaries and pensions paid on time, self sufficient, Sugar production on the increase along with the Foreign exchange from the Tourist and expats, in the position to afford to borrow and repay the debt, cost of living affordable for all. A First Class Government that look after their citizens, DEMs listens and deliver. So why all the fuss?

    Reply
    • Rechelle July 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

      I like this tongue in cheek…..grreeat!!

      Reply
  3. Saga Boy July 16, 2017 at 6:06 am

    @Veroniva. Very well said. Nothing disastrous has happened. People are still employed. Businesses still functioning and yet the BLP saying things are bad. Seems the strikes and all the talk have to do with anticipated doom. People from the other islands still see Barbados as the island of choice

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  4. Patrick July 16, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Let them strike, they can’t afford to go without pay for two days and the union’s strike fund is empty just like their ideas

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  5. chris hill July 16, 2017 at 8:50 am

    too much long talk is correct. for too long the unions have been slaves to the DLP policy which is strictly one sided. how can it /be said that unemployment is low it really is not, its just that everyone is trying their best to get through these hard times however they can. All government systems have long time broken down weather it be garbage or transport or road works they have serious problems. the latest taxation will cause the private sector to shrink, layoffs are already planned by major private sector players. Investment is not there at all. I work mostly for ex pats and they are leaving rapidly, the tourist are not spending (this was in the tourism report). when i hear or read the DLP propaganda by Ms Boyce i have to ask are you really living on the same rock as I.

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  6. joan Worrell July 16, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Somebody needs to talk to these four blind mice. If they think that by striking, the Government will fall, they are living in a fool’s paradise. Governments are brought down by internal or external coups. An example of the former was the vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Sir Lloyd Sandiford. The latter is in the form of a coup d’état as happens daily in Africa. Upping de ting with a shut down of Barbados makes the economy worse for their BLP if they win the Government in 2018. The private sector, their current bedfellows will lose money and will be forced to lay off staff. That will result in Toni Moore’s BWU membership numbers decreasing. She should not pull the tail of a sleeping lion. Let her stop the bus service from running. Government will find a good reason for handing over the Transport Board to the Asians resulting in more BWU members gone home. No Asian concessionaire is going to recognize the BWU as bargaining agent. If that were the case, all the Swan Street , High Street, Tudor Street and Broad Street employees would be members of the BWU. Ask Eddy Abed if his staff is unionized. Comrade Trotman marched 10,000 souls up the hill and down and when they were half way up, they were neither up nor down. That did not bring down the Government of the day, so if these four blind mice think that Stuart will bow to their demands of reversing the NSRL, they better think twice.

    Reply
  7. Frank White July 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    This is the problem I have with the unions… They talk then they walk and then they talk again, what’s the point?? This action make the unions look like they are lost and don’t know what they are doing and that’s why the DLP leadership and ministers are not taking them seriously…

    Strike while the iron is hot…

    Reply
  8. Patrick July 16, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    The unions cannot muster 4000 persons to strike, this entire exercise is political, the unions cannot even pay their own staff and want to run a country.

    Reply
  9. Patrick July 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Why don’t the Union deal with Sandy lane, Royal Shop.and G4s.

    Reply
  10. joan Worrell July 16, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    What about the Union and their own workers? Do you remember Caswell apologizing to the BWU over the 13 BWU workers?

    Read the following and tell me if you saw an apology.

    BWU bans Barbados Today from delegates’ meeting
    August 31st, 2016

    In an unprecedented move , the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) banned local media house Barbados Today from covering the union’s 75th annual delegates’ conference at Solidarity House last Saturday.
    The two organisations have become embroiled in a dispute over an article the media house carried last week in which Unity Workers Union (UWU) general secretary Caswell Franklyn accused the BWU of breaching the Employment Rights Act by suggesting that 13 employees take voluntary separation packages.
    “It is with some regret that in the past couple days, we have observed a number of pitiful attempts to taint the plans we have for this conference, to taint our moments of intro-flection as a labour family by one media house,” a disgruntled BWU general secretary Toni Moore said during her closing remarks at the opening ceremony.
    And so yes, you may have heard that in Barbados, today, the BWU has sent a signal to that media house that it was not welcome at our opening conference,” she added.
    Moore said that she felt the article was “irresponsible journalism” that was aimed at benefiting from “deceit and sensationalism”.
    According to an editor’s note from that same media house, an email sent by senior assistant general secretary Orlando “Gabby” Scott read: “I have been instructed by the executive council of the Barbados Workers’ Union that your news service will not be welcome to attend the Barbados Workers’ Union’s 75th annual delegates’ conference which will be held on Saturday, August 27, 2016 and Saturday, September 3, 2016.”
    The online publication maintained it was “satisfied that the BWU was able to fully vent its position” and could “therefore see no just cause for the union’s position”, but Moore took a dim view of Franklyn and the publication’s actions.
    “. . . Attempts cannot be made to undermine another organisation that is set on the same course as that union. All unions, whether you’re the Barbados Workers’ Union, the National Union of Public Workers, the BSTU, the BUT, CTUSAB, all unions should have in mind the same objective,” she said. (AD)
    Reply

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  11. joan Worrell July 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Do you expect Barbadians to have respect for the NUPW leadership when a fellow trade union leader thinks poorly of them? Have another read from Uncle Caswell Franklyn.

    National Union of Public Workers (NUPW).

    The Caswell Franklyn – Poor Representation by Union

    THE FACADE OF A PEACEFUL industrial relations environment at the Grantley Adams International Airport was recently shattered by a three-hour work stoppage that was instituted by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW).

    The union is claiming that the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc. (GAIA Inc.) owes the workers an increase of 3.5 per cent on their basic pay going back to January 2011.

    GAIA Inc. denies the union’s claim and the matter has now been referred to the Chief Labour Officer. But how did the matter reached this point?

    In October 2010 the NUPW and GAIA Inc. concluded negotiations for the two-year period January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011. The parties settled on a pay increase of four per cent for 2010 and a further increase of 3.5 per cent which should have taken effect on January 1, 2011.

    GAIA Inc. admitted in a full page media statement in the SUNDAY SUN of February 14, 2016 that an agreement was reached for an increase of 7.5 per cent over the two-year period. However, when the board of directors submitted the matter to the Cabinet for final approval, the Government instructed GAIA Inc. that there should be no increase in wages and salary for whatever reason.

    It should be noted that submitting salary increases to the Government for approval is a statutory requirement for the Public Service and statutory boards.

    But GAIA Inc. is a private company that is registered under the Companies Act and there should be no need to submit salary increases to Cabinet. Government is the sole shareholder of GAIA Inc., but that does not make the company a statutory board. In the normal scheme of things, the board of directors of a company is responsible and oversees the operations on behalf of the shareholders. The board does not revert to the shareholders to approve operational decisions of management.

    If I am to rely on the media statement, referral to the Cabinet was the first mistake that set the sequence of unorthodox industrial relations procedures rolling. Thereafter, matters got worse; the NUPW, rather than behave like a trade union, went cap in hand to the Prime Minister.

    From the documents in the public domain, the Prime Minister met with the parties to the agreement on December 28, 2010 and it was agreed that the 3.5 per cent for 2011 would be “taken off the table”.

    Then by letter dated January 4, 2011, the general secretary of NUPW wrote to GAIA Inc. to inform them that the union met with the workers on January 3, and that they “agreed and accepted that there will be no increase for January 2011”. So far not one worker of GAIA Inc can be found that is even aware of the January 3 meeting.

    If there were such an agreement by the workers, that agreement would then have to be referred to the union’s national council for approval. It would therefore have been impossible to summon a meeting of the national council in less than one day. It is, therefore, clear to me that the workers at GAIA Inc. had no role in taking the 3.5 per cent increase off the table. Their anger is understandable but in my view, it is misplaced because they were poorly represented by their union.

    There was a collective agreement for an increase of 7.5 per cent over two years that should have been honoured since it was concluded with persons who had authority to bind GAIA Inc. At this point, many industrial practitioners would be saying that collective agreements are binding in honour only and that the workers had no legal claim to the increase. However in this case they would be wrong.

    While it is true that collective agreements would not normally confer any legal rights on workers, in this case the workers acquired a legally enforceable claim to their new salaries because the employer implemented the agreement by paying back pay on December 28, 2010.

    On the very day that the Prime Minister was meeting with the parties to the agreement, with a view to scuttling the pay increase, GAIA Inc. started to pay its workers under the terms of the new arrangements. There was therefore nothing on the table that could have been taken off.

    GAIA Inc. might assert that it had an agreement with a person who had ostensible authority to bind the union. Mind you, that argument is liable to fail because having implemented the agreement to increase salaries, each and every worker at GAIA Inc. had a new term in their contracts that could not be altered without their individual consent.

    If the company prevails, the workers would still be entitled to their increases from their union because it failed to give its members fair representation.

    Reply
  12. joan Worrell July 16, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Caswell Franklyn on the BWU case again.

    Let the BWU respond to this before upping de ting.
    Barbados Workers Union Hauled Before the Employment Rights Tribunal for Unfair Dismissal.
    Written by Caswell Franklyn.
    It is unusual to observe an employee forced to seek remedy against a trade union. Unfortunately for the employee (Christopher Jordan) the Chief Labour Officer was unable to resolve the matter, and as the law requires, he referred the matter to the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT).
    The inability of the government to operationalize the ERT continues to be an embarrassment for the country. The hundreds of cases outstanding to be given a hearing should be a cause of concern for the CTUSAB and Barbadians at large. How is the minister of labour Esther Byer able to boast of Barbados’ enactment of modern employment rights law if the efficacy of said law continues to be compromised by a dysfunctional ERT?
    A few other pertinent questions: why has Christopher Jordan had to endure the most base of labour practices by the largest trade union in Barbados? Why was the Chief Labour Officer unable to resolve the issue in light of glaring missteps by the Barbados Workers Union? Why has the government who boast of prioritizing the need to build a society above the economy not fast tracked alternative options to ameliorate the state of labour affairs in Barbados?
    The inability of our social safety structure to deliver in the prevailing environment is the true measurement of how effective government’s strategy has been. Where is

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  13. joan Worrell July 16, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    This is another sweet one from Caswell on the BWU.
    These are the same people who will have to up de ting and disrupt the transport system . OMG. Ignorance can’t dun

    Still no pension scheme at the Transport Board
    Added by Neville Clarke on August 20, 2014.
    Saved under Local News, Work force

    In the wake of yesterday’s protest by recently displaced workers at the Transport Board, one outspoken trade unionist has taken issue with the quality of representation being given to the workers there by the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), while pointing out that a long promised pension plan is still not in place.

    The General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union (UUW), Caswell Franklyn, is of the view that those workers, who are still attached to the Board, should formally part company with the BWU, on account of poor representation.

    “These workers have been misrepresented by that union for as long as it was representing them.

    I do not know what it is that keeps them tied to the BWU because certainly it could not be the quality of representation offered,” Franklyn told Barbados TODAY.

    He charged that, over the years, the BWU had used the Transport Board Division as “a show of strength” during industrial disputes.

    “The BWU would pull out divisons such the Transport Board and the Port Authority, which are seen as essential services, but they have not done anything for the Transport Board workers,” the outspoken trade unionist claimed.

    Franklyn also took a swipe at some of those employed at the Board, saying “they liked the idea of hobnobbing with the hierarchy of the BWU, and that was good enough for them. They did not need anything more.”

    His comments come in the wake of yesterday’s noisy protest by over a dozen former Transport Board employees, who have been waiting five months for their severance.

    Recalling that a pension scheme was promised by the late Prime Minister David Thompson after the Democratic Labour Party’s 2008 election victory, he said the Transport Board was the only statutory corporation that still does not have a pension plan in place.

    However, Franklyn said he had actually contacted an insurance company to look at a proposal to set up a private pension plan for workers who are currently employed there.

    “I cannot do anything for the people who have already left, other than to tell them how to get their severance pay. I have spoken to the company and what they are trying to do is to have a pension plan for the Transport Board workers who have none,” the UWU leader said.

    He pointed out that Transport Board workers were essentially “blue colour workers” and they were treated as such while the society provided pensions for politicians and other “white colour workers”.

    In the case of local politicians, he noted that in addition to their National Insurance pension, they also get a pension from the House of Assembly, “plus based on [their] earnings [they] can provide for a separate pension plan”. However, he said drivers at the Transport Board, “who have many lives committed in their hands every day”, do not have “any chance of benefiting from early retirement benefits”.

    In the absence of such arrangements, many were forced to continue working long after the age of retirement when in fact “drivers should be allowed to retire at a specific age and not allowed to continue working with chronic diseases.

    “They can endanger the lives of commuters, especially in the hilly districts of the country. These drivers cannot retire because they are only entitled to a National Insurance pension,” he said.

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  14. joan worrell July 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    This is an oldie goldie from way back in 2013

    Barbados Workers Union Has Become Irrelevant
    Submitted by Philip Skeete

    I should be grateful if you [BU] would get in touch with Sir Roy and tell him that a strike by the members of the BWU will not cripple LIME operations in 2013. All Sir Roy will be doing is crippling the Barbados economy. LIME’s survival depends on people using cell phones. While the workers are on strike, their idle fingers will be sending text messages to friends and family. Tops-up will be the order of the day.

    Pointless boasting that the Union successfully took strike action for 3 weeks against the Telephone Company 31 years ago. Those were the days when radio telephone operators connected people worldwide.Now every home in Barbados has a MagicJack [Skype] and while they are on strike, they will be giving their friends and family a blow by blow commentary on what is going on.

    Those were the days when newspapers had to wait hours for Reuters and Associated Press stories. Today, MCTV, Direct TV and Satellite receivers mounted on top of news media houses provide them with data before Reuters or Associated Press can get it right. Remember the 9/11 attacks? FOX News and CNN brought the news into the homes of Barbadians. They didn’t have to wait till the following day like back in 1981 (Bartel strike) to get the news. Every day youngsters watch European football on MCTV or on satellite TV at bars all over Barbados. LIME doesn’t provide these services. Nobody is waiting for an operator to answer the phone at LIME to send a telegram to friends and family overseas, Sir Roy. MagicJack is there for that purpose.

    Karib Cable, TeleBarbados and Digicel are there to provide back-up communications for cellphone contacts overseas. Nobody is waiting for the Transport Board to transport their children to and from school. The ZR and Minibus operators will clap their hands. They wouldn’t have to break the laws of Barbados to get a load for the days on which he calls out the Transport Board workers. It is time that Mr. Trotman ponders on these things and don’t make the silly mistakes which he made during the past decade of threatening Sandy Lane, Royal Shoppe, Almond Beach and others with strikes. Has he closed down these operations?

    Ask Mr. Trotman if he remembers the days when the Trades Union Congress of England threatened to shut down Ford Motors, the Fleet Street newspapers, bus and railway transportation weekly? Gone are those days. Trade Unions worldwide are redefining themselves. Read the overseas paper Sir Roy. The largest Trade Union ‘UNITE’ in the U.K has started a community membership programme which allows people, not necessarily union members , access to UNITE’s legal help-line, debt counselling and assistance in claiming benefits. Volunteers are asked to contribute 50p per week to help with the programme. This came about because of the massive redundancies in Britain.

    Mr. Trotman, you and your policies have become irrelevant in the 21st century. Ask for help from the young IR experts who are frustrating you sitting opposite you at the negotiations tables

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  15. joan Worrell July 16, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    These people can’t even manage a 10 member staff and demanding that a Prime Minister meets them in 48 hours or else …… They are jokers of the highest order.

    NUPW staff grievances to be addressed

    President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall says he will try to have any grievances NUPW staff may be experiencing put as one of the first agenda items when the Executive meeting continues today.
    Speaking to NATION Online as he was about to enter the meeting at the NUPW headquarters, at Dalkeith, St Michael, McDowall said he was unaware of the reasons why the workers would have taken industrial action yesterday.

    However he said the matter would be discussed and a resolution found.

    Reports indicate the workers had sickened out, protesting against salary increments that were long overdue. (LK)

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  16. Helicopter(8P) July 17, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Internationally Barbados will be stigmatized as a “go slow” and industrial action at any time country; this we do not want to be our motto! I envision Barbadians now to be grouping socially into village business activity(cottage- industries) within their community and aspiring to keep their profits within their said community. This will create a class structured Barbados all over again! The poor, the lower-middle class, the upper-middle class, and the rich!

    Reply
  17. joan Worrell July 17, 2017 at 11:16 am

    @Helicopter

    Have you ever shipped a barrel from overseas? Man I did it twice and have vowed that I will never do it again. Those people down there have been on go slow, day in day out for years. You have to take a bit of paper from Cubicle A to B to C to D back to A then to E and finally F ,. Yes I would like to see people gainfully employed but if pressure is put on Government by way of strikes, three quarters of these people will be made redundant. All it takes is upgrading or making use of the software currently in use, to cut down on the time wasted in a manual operation. The same thing happens at the Registration Department. It takes 3 to 5 working days to get a birth, marriage or death certificate. This is unnecessary . The information is already in a data base. If you can get a receipt from BRA in 5 minutes of talking to the cashier, you should be able to get a certificate from the Registration in about the same time. The Government Service is bursting at the seems with people on go slow all their working lives. You have security guards at schools doing absolutely nothing . If there is a school gate to be locked, let the porter do the job. Of what use was the security guard at the Lester Vaughn School where the child almost lost its life? You have messengers carrying mail from one office to another office 100 meters away and they drive expensive vehicles to deliver it. This is wastage of money. These people can be replaced by technology but the Government is printing money to save their jobs. In every Government Department some staff leave at two or three o’çlock to pick up their children from school and never return to work, using the excuse that they are at a late lunch. Why the hell the 4 unions can’t realise that they are forcing Government into a position where they will have to relieve some of their members of their jobs.

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  18. Tennyson Drakes July 17, 2017 at 11:19 am

    This current situation is so hilarious, if is was not serious it would make you laugh until you die. Can you imagine that the Unions are in dialogue with the Private Sector. The Private Sector is asking the Government to cut expenditure (by drastically reducing the Public Sector) which translate to sending home the same people that are sitting down with them. So funny. BUT want to strike because an entity (the Government) is trying it utmost best to keep them employed. What a thing.

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  19. joan Worrell July 17, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    @Tennyson

    It is more than laughable. Barbados has a Public Transporft System (Transport Board) which is superior to all the others in the Caribbean and Central America except Puerto Rico. However , for some unknown reason it operates in the red. Would the BWU , which represents the employees, like to see Government privatize the company? The BLP had plans for privatizing it but the DLP saved the workers” jobs by printing money to pay them. The NSRL is the alternative to printing money. If the unions don’t want NSRL, then I am sorry, the Fairchild Street, Roebuck Street, Princess Alice, Speightstown and Mangrove terminals would become ZR and Mini Bus terminals where the vehicles owned by Asians , will be parked. And you know what would happen? The BWU wouldn’t have any members from that division to disrupt the bus service in the event of a strike threat . Let them up de ting.

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  20. joan Worrell July 17, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Stand your ground Mr. Prime Minister. Yes it is blackmail. If you give into their demands of meeting them within 48 hours or else they will start industrial action, what happens next month if they give you an ultimatum of 24 hours to give them a salary increase.? Let them up de ting, and you down de ting with the payroll.

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