Not budging

Heightened protest now seems inevitable

It now seems inevitable that workers at two statutory corporations will be off the job in the not too distant future.

This as a bitter pay dispute between management of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the Barbados Workers’ Union remains deadlocked.

Amid feverish last ditch efforts by the Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer -Suckoo to broker an agreement this morning, both sides appeared to be digging in their heels, with the BWU today threatening to call out its members at the neighbouring Barbados Water Authority (BWA) headquarters over the vexed issue of payment of outstanding increments.

As the CBC workers picketed the compound of the state broadcaster this morning, there were loud shouts of “speak the truth” after the corporation’s management issued a statement in its evening newscast on Tuesday night to the effect that while workers may be legally entitled to receive increments, such payments must fall within the existing salary scales.

Management is however contending that any payments outside of the existing scales would be “tantamount to salary increases”, which, according to Section 20 (c) of the CBC Act, can only be granted by the minister responsible, which in this case is Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

At a press conference this afternoon, CBC Chairman Peter Earle also reported that the strike, which is now into its third day, has had limited effect on the operations of the state broadcaster with only 25 per cent of workers currently off the job and the radio, television and cable station’s programming largely unaffected.

CBC Chairman Peter Earle (inset) today reported that only 25 per cent of workers were off the job and that the radio, television and cable station’s programming was largely unaffected by the strike action.

“The three radio stations remain on air with some periods automated while TV 8 has made some adjustment to its schedule, including temporary breaks to Mornin’ Barbados and the Midday News. [However], because the vast majority of staff has not joined the industrial action we have been able to maintain our customer service operations for MCTV [Multi-Choice TV].

TV 8 has been able to maintain its major Evening News product and our three radio stations continue to function,” said Earle, while doubling down on the corporation’s position that persons at the top of the pay scale would not benefit from the deal brokered with the union.

However, when pressed by Barbados TODAY, the CBC chairman admitted that the threat of escalated industrial action was cause for concern.

“I can’t predict [the impact], but it would put some pressure on us, but I believe that the position that we hold is a reasonable one. I don’t know of any place where persons get additional increments once they are at the top. For us to agree to that is going to set a serious precedent in Barbados. It just does not happen,” he insisted.

However, based on an agreement reached under the chairmanship of the Minister of Labour, both the BWU and its members are accusing Government of not honouring its side of the bargain, which was for the pay deal to be implemented across-the-board.

As a result CBC workers who are already at the top of their pay scales, were both surprised and disappointed to learn when they received their pay packs on Tuesday that they would not be benefiting from the latest pay deal, triggering an immediate work stoppage.

Speaking from the frontline of today’s action which was also supported by two BWA shop stewards, BWU General Secretary Toni Moore again lamented that an almost identical scenario had occurred at the water authority “when an agreement was reached last year in a meeting at Government headquarters”.

However, Moore told Barbados TODAY that “to date there are aspects of that agreement that the BWA has not honoured. In fact, they wrote recently that there are aspects of that agreement that they have no intention of honouring [and] in our view that represents a fundamental departure.”

Therefore, Moore said while she was aware of the minister’s efforts to find a solution to the latest impasse at CBC, the BWU had not received “any official word of a meeting or any indication that such a step is forthcoming” and was simply not prepared to back down from its stance on the matter.

“All we can say is that [the executive council of] Barbados Workers’ Union met at Solidarity House [last night] and approved further industrial action to vindicate the workers of CBC and we are sticking to that until,” she said, while stressing that the union was prepared to take whatever action was necessary to have the issue resolved, including calling out all BWU divisions if required.

Moore further warned that unless Government honours its original agreement to the workers of both CBC and the BWA, protest action could hit both statutory corporations sooner rather than later.

Back in March 2016, workers at the BWA downed tools for a week over the issue of increments.

The standoff came to an end after the BWU struck an undisclosed deal with the BWA management following a six-hour meeting chaired by Byer-Suckoo.  

colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

10 Responses to Not budging

  1. Greengiant September 30, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Because the station is still functioning the B W U is calling out the B W A workers, and will extend it to a national level if necessary.
    Now I wonder how many of these CBC employees usually support other strike action, because they would be required to cover the strike action.

    There should be increments for management only base on performance. They can’t be failing to manage profitably and wanting increases, but this happens when we have civil servants running a media house. See how they recycle management personnel when the government changes. CBC needs to be privatized fully. Government shouldn’t control media all they need is channel for G I S.

    Reply
  2. Mark My Word September 30, 2017 at 8:54 am

    These know it all young Turks with Masters Degrees and no common sense, that now in charge of the Unions have their own secret agenda.
    We need a leader like Tom Adams to deal with these Mercenaries.

    Reply
  3. Tony Webster September 30, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Lotd, is it within your gracious power, to find below C.B.C., a large, unstable cavern (a much, much larger one than than Arch Hall), and for you to relieve us of this giant carbuncle on the fair fiscal face of our beloved country? Yes please arrange things when no Bajan might be within danger. We ( me an’ my Chinese buddies) will make it into a new tourist attraction, with shuttle underground trains liking subterranean C.B.C. To Harrison’s Cave, and terminating at Kelly’s 500-ft viewing tower ( and new airport) in St.Lucy, returning to the Bridgetown Port (Sugar Point, of course) via Moore’s watering hole, where evahbody will get very, very happy. Matter fixed.
    Amen

    Reply
  4. Loretta Griffith September 30, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    All Prime Minister Stuart has to do is SELL CBC as has been the call from most Barbadians, and let Sir Roy and Miss Moore employ the staff.
    I may not always agree with PM’s leadership style, but he should stand his ground on this one. You are the “PRIME” MINISTER and lead you must and not be led or dictated to. If you are firm in your beliefs in the interest of country do what is right and not what is politically correct.
    Too many hypocrites, fakers and pretenders are out there. Real situations expose them.

    Reply
  5. Helicopter(8P) September 30, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    “Too much greed! That’s what it boilds down too! During times as these it is totally Non nationalisttic for workers to ask for salary increases which vertually may put you into a higher tax bracket. It seems madness of what my fellow countrymen are asking. Where is the civics? We would like to see some of the amenities awarded to the politicians suspended as we struggle to stay balanced economicly, this being executed until we regain a proper footing in the Commonwealth and globally! There is no sin or jail term for being meek! At least it’s one of “the Eight Beattitudes”!

    Reply
  6. Donild Trimp September 30, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    I have always stated the majority of Barbadians exist on an entitlement mentality.

    The PM should get Cabinet together and pass legislation ordering these lazy entitled people back to work.

    Things will get better when all the tax dodgers in Barbados pay their taxes.

    Reply
  7. Carson C Cadogan September 30, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    The public of Barbados has to live through very poor programming from CBC.

    What the staff ought to be striking for is a REDUCTION OF PAY for the piss poor service which Bajans have to suffer through from CBC day after day with no sign of relief.

    Reply
  8. Carson C Cadogan September 30, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    The public of Barbados has to live through very poor programming from CBC.

    What the staff ought to be striking for is a REDUCTION OF PAY for the poor service which Bajans have to suffer through from CBC day after day with no sign of relief.

    Reply
  9. Balfast September 30, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Agreed CCC. It hard to believe that CBC once fell under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education, not that it would make any difference today.

    Reply
  10. Loretta Griffith September 30, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    If you meet six people five tell you they don’t watch CBC and are shocked when you say you watch it. Up to this morning at the beach you were asked who watches CBC?
    Truthfully, I still watch it although we have MultiChoice.
    I hope the striking staff would listen to logic and not the feel good false hope.
    Seems like we need what happened to the other islands affected by Irma and Maria to wake us up from our slumber.

    Reply

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