Not over yet!

Union to ramp up action tomorrow - officials

A national shutdown order issued by this island’s largest public sector trade union appeared today to have had a rather lukewarm effect on the state sector with all major Government services remaining open for business.

From early this morning the state-run Transport Board’s bus service was up and running and while truckers at the Bridgetown Port reported a late start to operations there, both the island’s air and seaports suffered little to no noticeable disruption, amid the national protest by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) over a breakdown in talks for a 23 per cent salary increase and other pay demands.

It was also business as usual at Warrens Tower, the Treasury Building – which includes the offices of the Barbados Revenue Authority – and at Baobab Tower, which houses Government’s statistical services, as well as departments of commerce and the corporate registry.

However, some secondary schools were affected with Combermere forced to shut its doors early at 11:45 a.m. due to the unavailability of teaching staff. As members of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) showed strong solidarity with the NUPW, operations at The Ellerslie School, Lodge School and Grantley Adams Memroial were also impacted.

With that said, NUPW officials, who were quiet all day, offering no public comment, privately indicated that they were preparing to ramp up action tomorrow in their desperate bid to get Government to meet their pay demands, even as their sister union, the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), appeared to have taken a more conciliatory stance in the ongoing pay dispute.

It’s not clear whether the Toni Moore-led BWU will support tomorrow’s ramped up action by the Akanni McDowall-led NUPW.

In a statement released this afternoon, BWU General Secretary Toni Moore said her union supported the NUPW in principle but stopped short of offering its support to the current strike action.

“The Executive Council would not wish for our silence to be regarded as being antipathetic or unsympathetic to the cause of the National Union of Public Workers, nor would we want to be aligned to any alternative views or motives that are being brandished within other circles. The BWU agrees with the NUPW’s statement that public servants deserve better. And of course, that ‘better’ continues to shift as the pressure of increased taxes and the cost of living is felt more with each passing month,” Moore said.

She explained that the BWU, which has been pressing Government for a 15 per cent pay increase for its members in the civil service, and the NUPW, had been negotiating separately with the Ministry of the Civil Service, and while the NUPW was given a mandate from its members to give Government a January 15 deadline to conclude the protracted wage talks, the BWU had received no such instructions from its membership.

“Reports are that the NUPW received a mandate from its members on December 27, 2017 to conclude negotiations by January 15, 2018.  The BWU has had no such mandate,” Moore stated, while emphasizing the fact that the two unions have been negotiating separately for a revised collective agreement for public servants.

“Since June 23, 2017, the BWU gave way for the Ministry of the Civil Service to negotiate with the NUPW toward having their terms and conditions settled until the Ministry of the Civil Service received a mandate to discuss money. The reasons for this were simple – the BWU has only money and appointments on the table; the NUPW had several other proposals that were up for discussion,” she explained.

Contending that the unpopular the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) which increased from two per cent to ten per cent effective July last year would drastically increase the cost of living by at least 15 per cent, the NUPW, along with the BWU, the BSTU and the Barbados Union of Teachers, had demanded a “coping subsidy” for public servants until the completion of salary negotiations.

The levy was part of a $542 million austerity budget presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last May, which also included the introduction of a two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions and increases in the duties on petrol.

Back then NUPW President Akanni McDowall had stressed that Government’s attempt to keep the struggling economy afloat by injecting over $500 million in taxes would diminish the spending capacity of already financially strained households.

“The union further recognizes that the hike in the social responsibility levy from two per cent to ten per cent will result in across the board increases in the price of food, other necessity items and further diminish the spending capacity of its members and the wider public . . . . These measures cut at the core of the functioning of every household in Barbados, some of which are already under extreme pressure,” McDowall had said.

When the NUPW last met with the Ministry of the Civil Service just over a month ago, an offer of a $49 million lump sum coping subsidy was put on the table. The union roundly rejected the offer, and instead demanded a $60 million lump sum, which would allow for an across-the-board $2,500 payment to help cope with the rising cost of living. This led to the current stalemate in which Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who is the minister responsible for the civil service, remains mum.

With the NUPW currently demanding both the coping subsidy and the 23 per cent pay rise from Government, which has not moved from its offer of zero per cent, the BWU general secretary today made it clear her union was not interested in any “token” lump sum.

“The public should be aware that the BWU has never stopped insisting on an actual increase in wages and salaries, rather than on any token lump-sum payment; for it is our view that a lump sum would give workers instant gratification for a weekend and return them to the same position in the following week.

“The BWU understood from our meeting in June last year with the Prime Minister that by October 2017, Government would have been in a position to make a wages and salaries offer based on revenue intake from the National Social Responsibility Levy for the three-month period July to September.

“The BWU recognizes that, even where a modest increase is applied to wages and salaries, it will apply week on week or month on month and thus contribute to our national economic activity and of course, it will be of lasting value to all public servants and will improve their pensions,” Moore stressed.


colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

20 Responses to Not over yet!

  1. Wayne T Griffith
    Wayne T Griffith January 18, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Not over? But it start?

    Reply
  2. Michael Crichlow
    Michael Crichlow January 18, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    People! If you can find the Mill that’s producing these Yahoo’s! Unplug it please!!

    Reply
  3. Nikolaos Yarde
    Nikolaos Yarde January 18, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    If you gonna shut down the country why advertise it ?? You basically made you protest impotent . a more effective way is let everyone go work like normal then issue the shut down directive… These ppl like they need me to help them

    Reply
    • Almar H Cave
      Almar H Cave January 18, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      I was honestly wondering the same thing. Why say you are going to do it and then to add more insult to injury you gave the dates?

      Reply
    • Cyan Jada
      Cyan Jada January 18, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Perhaps it is an Intimidatory measure to hopefully force dialogue on the part of the Government … a bluff in a sense

      Reply
    • Nikolaos Yarde
      Nikolaos Yarde January 18, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      Lol this weakens their leverage and makes the govt stronger …al the govt got to do is got a skeleton staff on standbuy

      Reply
  4. Almar H Cave
    Almar H Cave January 18, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    This article has me baffled. The BWU supports only in theory but not action. Why doesn’t the BWU support in action as well? What is the problem. Has to be something we don’t know about. I will wait and see.

    Reply
    • milli watt January 19, 2018 at 11:02 am

      @ Almar……. no need to wait Toni Moore is a betrayer of men.

      Reply
  5. Saga Boy January 18, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    A strike makes no sense. The NUPW wants 23% while the BWU wants 15%. And there is no money. Both unions has had to lay off people. The BWU laid off some officers and rehired Sir Roy’s daughter who carries out the same duties as the officers who were laid off. My question is this. Did the BWU offer the laid off officers to rehire them before Sir Roy’s daughter was given the job? Was this position created for her? Is this nepotism? Is Sir Roy an Adviser or employee? Does the GS have a relative working at the BWU? Is the nepotism the same nopitism the BWU striked against at the TB a few years ago? After the strike and the Gov is forced into paying what they can’t afford will the unions be asking gov to reduce expenditure? Will it push the country towards more down grades. After the unions destroy the country how will they rebuild it?

    Reply
  6. De duke January 18, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    January 18, 2018 at 10:16 pm
    A strike makes no sense. The NUPW wants 23% while the BWU wants 15%. And there is no money. Both unions has had to lay off people. The BWU laid off some officers and rehired Sir Roy’s daughter who carries out the same duties as the officers who were laid off. My question is this. Did the BWU offer the laid off officers to rehire them before Sir Roy’s daughter was given the job? Was this position created for her? Is this nepotism? Is Sir Roy an Adviser or employee? Does the GS have a relative working at the BWU? Is the nepotism the same nopitism the BWU striked against at the TB a few years ago? After the strike and the Gov is forced into paying what they can’t afford will the unions be asking gov to reduce expenditure? Will it push the country towards more down grades. After the unions destroy the country how will they rebuild it?

    Reply
  7. Greengiant January 19, 2018 at 5:58 am

    This makes no sense. Honestly, how much work is done in the public sector on Fridays?

    I’m really tired hearing these clowns having their circus performances played out in the media.

    Reply
  8. Samantha Best January 19, 2018 at 7:40 am

    It is time the workers save their union dues to pay a good lawyer as the need arises. These unions are a waste of time and money. The leadership has not been effective for some time now.

    Reply
    • milli watt January 19, 2018 at 11:05 am

      @ samantha I likes this reasoning

      Reply
  9. Saga Boy January 19, 2018 at 8:46 am

    I am glad that common sense prevailed yesterday and will today. The country cannot afford the demands being made by the NUPW and the majority of the public officers understand that. The employees also are aware that the demands make no logical sense but is politically motivated. This is time to rebuild this country not destroy it for political nonsense by power hungry politicians.

    Reply
  10. Darson January 19, 2018 at 9:44 am

    The seem to have difficulty understanding basic Economics , Cand spend what you don’t have .
    When you borrow you must repay.
    This is a National debt and not a party Debt , Not DLP or BLP ,like it or not all of us owe that money and all of us will have to pay .
    We the people cant afford to pay you what you are demanding .
    My suggestion to you is this , lease the schools run them and charge a fee every one pay and let us see how well you can manage , maybe you all are basing your demands on what you charge for private lessons . Can you Imagine Teachers not showing for classes , not performing in school and sending letters by my son to attend private lessons at home : now we want to shut down a Country : Really , are you guys really sure about what you are saying? I say think it over and over again.
    Now I see why you all Treated Mr Brooms the way you did , and dont like Minister Jones.

    Reply
  11. Darson January 19, 2018 at 9:45 am

    The seem to have difficulty understanding basic Economics , Cant spend what you don’t have .
    When you borrow you must repay.
    This is a National debt and not a party Debt , Not DLP or BLP ,like it or not all of us owe that money and all of us will have to pay .
    We the people cant afford to pay you what you are demanding .
    My suggestion to you is this , lease the schools run them and charge a fee every one pay and let us see how well you can manage , maybe you all are basing your demands on what you charge for private lessons . Can you Imagine Teachers not showing for classes , not performing in school and sending letters by my son to attend private lessons at home : now we want to shut down a Country : Really , are you guys really sure about what you are saying? I say think it over and over again.
    Now I see why you all Treated Mr Brooms the way you did , and dont like Minister Jones.

    Reply
  12. Alex Alleyne January 19, 2018 at 10:33 am

    “Not over yet” , You all ain’t stopping “till these fellas leave office”……..right ?????.

    Reply
  13. milli watt January 19, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Akanni got to watch he self. Toni Moore leave out her own already and she clearly leave you out now Akanni. She gone from march where the numbers change every time she open she mout to lot a long talk. That march was to let off steam and save face. This is where the rubber going hit the road problem is YOU GOT A FLAT.

    Reply
  14. Adrian Hinds January 19, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Public Sector Unions in Barbados are becoming social piraya’s much like their counterparts in small town America. During the 2007-2008 financial crisis in America many Towns across America were strap for cash but Municipal (public sector) Unions did not care one bit and still demanded that their bargaining agreements be met. It was total greed and indifference to the realities that all other working class Americans were experiencing. This led to significant backlash to the point that these unions have gotten their power and rights significantly scaled back. In Barbados it seems to me that the reasons for this ridiculous strike action is political partisanship of a few in the Unions leadership. I hope that the day is coming in Barbados when the public will see these unions for what they have become, and press their parliamentary representatives to stop using the civil service as dumping ground for their friends, family, and constituents, and that they will look at legislation to curtail this behavior.

    Reply
  15. Saga Boy January 19, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Adrian Hinds you are spot on. Unions have caused some states to go bankrupt and continue to lose members. In Barbados in case you have not noticed, the BWU no longer have the power to shut down that sector. Besides a supermarket like Massy and the hotel sector there is no one for them to call to support strike action. When last did you hear about a threat to prevent the winter tourism season from commencing on time? Hotels like sandy lane and the elegant group are no longer negotiating with the hotel hotels under the hotel association. Sandy Lane can’t be touched and telecom giant Bartel/Cable and Wireless no longer exist in the manner and numbers they did in the 1980s. With the enactment of more and more Labour laws employees are less dependent on the union. So the BWU is almost toothless in the private sector. Don’t get me wrong, unions have helped employees a great deal but there comes a time when reasonableness should obtain. The only entities they can pick on are those in the public cooperation Like NHC, NCC, TB etc. Membership continues to drop because members are becoming more and more dissatisfied.

    Reply

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