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Government's Restructuring

The Executive Council of the Barbados Workers’ Union is aware that the subject of retrenchment is always certain to be one which raises high emotional issues, especially at a time where household disposable incomes for some time, have been under significant strain from direct and indirect taxes.

The Union is on record as saying that retrenchment where it even impacts one person, is disheartening. At the level of the Social Partnership, where several discussions have been held since the end of May this year, there has been much discussion surrounding whether retrenchment was even necessary to achieve the desired levels of recovery and sustainability.

The BWU has been constrained to consider and accept a number of difficult alternatives, including the proposal to undertake a retrenchment exercise across the public sector, in the effort to maintain a number of critical positions, not least of which is protecting the Barbados dollar from devaluation. The BWU, accepts the position that the devaluation of the Barbados dollar would have far worse implications for all concerned.

To date, the retrenchment exercise in the public sector has not impacted large numbers of BWU members directly. However, even where there have been a few impacts to our constituents, the BWU has been concerning itself with the way in which the process has been handled. Moreover, the BWU has been preoccupied with gathering information from our displaced members regarding their skills and interests to see how they can benefit from anticipated opportunities in the shortest possible time.

Our issue has not been with what was done, but rather, the way it was done; particularly since, the approach to the retrenchment exercise to date, has not been consistent with what was agreed at the level of the Social Partnership.

As the BWU prepares itself for a series of meetings where retrenchment is contemplated across several State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) where the BWU is the accredited representative of the workers, we remain very mindful and attentive to the approaches which we must protect against if fairness is to be guaranteed.

For instance, the SOEs are governed by the Employment Rights Act and so, we will ensure that discussions are guided by the provisions of the Act as well as by the agreements reached at our Social Partnership meetings.

One such area of consideration relates to the BWU’s insistence on Last-In-First-Out LIFO), which is the selection method which the Social Partnership agreed would be applied to the retrenchment exercise. The proposal is that that criteria would be amended only where it could be shown that its use compromised the retention of existing skills; skills that are not present elsewhere within the public sector.

The BWU, like others within the Social Partnership accepts that generally, there are better methods which can be used to differentiate employees on the basis of assessment to ascertain where they possess the desired levels of efficiency, ability, skills, capacity, experience, attitude to work, productivity etc…

However, we have had to accept that within the public sector, there has been no such system of measuring those variables which has been applied in a uniform, consistent and reliable manner. Yes, there is the PRDS, but its effective application across the public sector has been observed more in the breach than by application.

The BWU maintains that any attempt to apply these criteria now, where formal assessments had not been undertaken, would lend to greater subjectivity and flaw; more so than the use of LIFO. This is simply because one would now have to rely on the persons making the selection, who themselves, with the best will, may be predisposed to exercising biases. For the system not to be flawed, there would have to have been an awareness beforehand of the criteria which would be used in circumstances such as retrenchment and further, there would have to be a built-in system for employees to challenge any conclusions drawn.

The BWU would not allow Government now to turn to past deficiencies or misdemeanours to select employees for retrenchment, without insisting that employees should be given reasonable opportunity to answer charges relating to work performance or conduct. At the very least, employees would need, on an individual basis, to be given the opportunity to respond before final assessments could be submitted on them.

The BWU recognises that LIFO could also lead to the exit of some of the best employees and that will happen because there is no system that is without flaw. However, within the context of the current retrenchment exercise in the public sector, and given the absence of any formalised, consistently applied system of appraisal, it must be seen as the best alternative of what there is available.

So, as the BWU commences retrenchment discussions for the SOEs, we remain very anxious to ensure that there is a transparent process of assessment which honours the agreed criteria and methodologies which have been discussed and accepted at the level of the social partnership.

To our members, we are relying on you to walk with us through this very difficult exercise.

Toni Moore
General Secretary, BWU

 
BWU General Secretary Statement - Layoff Process

Click below to listen to the General Secretary's statement on October 30th 2018.

 

 
The UWI Honours Sir Roy Trotman and Senator Toni Moore

The Executive Council of the Barbados Workers’ Union (B.W.U.) congratulates the B.W.U. General Secretary Senator Toni Moore and former General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman who were among the seventy alumni of the University of the West Indies who were honoured in a ceremony, held at the UWI Cave Hill Campus on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. The observance formed part of the UWI’s 70th anniversary.

Sir Roy was among the five honourees of the UWI who attended that university in the 1960s and Senator Moore was among the eight alumni who attended the UWI in the decade of the 1990s. The Governor General, Her Excellency Dame Sandra Mason, and former Prime Ministers of Barbados Owen Arthur and Freundel Stuart, along with the former Bishop of Barbados Dr. John Holder and Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson were among the prominent Barbadian leaders who were honoured.

The University of the West Indies was established in 1948. Its first Registrar was The Rt. Excellent Sir Hugh Worrell Springer, who was the first General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (1941-1947) and went to become acting Governor of Barbados and Governor of Barbados.

 

 
BWU Elected as Vice President of the 19th Regional Conference of the Americas

The Executive Council of The Barbados Workers’ Union (B.W.U.) congratulates the General Secretary, Senator Toni Moore, on being elected as a Vice President of the 19th Regional Conference of the Americas. Senator Moore was one of three Vice Presidents elected at the conference. The Government Vice-President is Ms Graciela Sosa of Argentina and the Employer Vice-President is Mr Severo Sousa of Panama.

The conference took place in Panama City, Panama from the 2 – 5 October 2018 with discussions surrounding the Report of the ILO Director General “Preparing the Future of Work We Want in the Americas Through Social Dialogue”. In the introduction of the Report, the Director General stated “The discussion on the future of work is part of the times in which we are living. Profound and rapid changes are generating transformations that directly impact labour markets and this leads to anxiety and to doubts about the future: what will happen to the jobs of the future? Where will our children work? … And their children?

2. The 19th American Regional Meeting takes place in Panama at a time when discussion and reflection on these transformations are occurring throughout the world. And the ILO has taken a leadership role in addressing this issue through an initiative on the future of work. 3. In pursuit of this reflection, a Global Commission on the Future of Work, convened last year by the ILO, will present its report next year, clarifying the strategies and directions we need to take in order to create the future of work we want, based on the premise that the destination has yet to be written and that we can bring our influence to bear in order to mitigate its negative impacts and make better use of the opportunities it provides. 4. Latin America and the Caribbean are not exempt from these concerns nor are the United States and Canada”.

A number of thematic plenary sittings were held: the first being Preparing the future of work we want: Policies for sustainable, productive development for sustained and inclusive growth, with more and better decent jobs. The second Preparing the future of work we want: Policies to promote the transition from the informal to the formal economy and to respond to accelerating technological change and to diverse forms of employment. The third was Preparing the future of work we want: Measures and policies to strengthen and redesign institutions in the world of work, including social security, and to ensure that trade union and labour rights are fully upheld and the Fourth Preparing the future of work we want: The digital economy and labour skills and competencies

The Regional Conference of the Americas takes place every four years

 
IUF International Fast Food Workers' Meeting

Comrade Dwaine Paul, Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (B.W.U.) is among the delegates of the affiliates of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF), who are attending the IUF International Fast Food Workers’ meeting, which began in London on Tuesday, 2 October.

In recent years, activities from IUF affiliates have taken place in solidarity and support of a growing number of fast food workers fighting for their rights and decent wages and conditions. Thousands of fast food workers in several countries have joined the three International Fast Food Workers’ Days, and participated in a variety of actions including leafleting, demonstrations and strikes. Global protests have been organised to demand the right to join or form a union, to highlight poor working conditions and wage theft, zero-hour contracts, low wages and precarious employment. The Fifth International Fast Food Workers’ Day is planned for Thursday, 4 October, which, incidentally, is the 77th anniversary of the B.W.U.

The elaboration of a broader strategy than can unite and strengthen fast food workers and the unions that increasingly represent them is among a strategic programme planned by the IUF for the next five years. The programme will also deal with the following issues:

  • explore with affiliates the potential value of company-specific networks of union representatives to share knowledge and any progress establishing union membership and collective bargaining processes in those companies;
  • enhancing the international fast food workers network amongst affiliates active within the sector and strengthen regular communications amongst these affiliates;
  • deepen research on key fast food companies and enhance the degree to which the research is shared and understood amongst affiliates;
  • continue to map union activity and engagement in the sector world-wide;
  • strengthen our capacity for collective and concrete solidarity action in support of fast food workers facing rights abuses in the sector; and
  • continuing to expand the footprint and visibility of the international struggle of fast food workers around the world.

The IUF is an international federation of trade unions representing workers employed in agriculture and plantations, the preparation and manufacture of food and beverages, hotels, restaurants and catering services, all stages of tobacco processing and is composed of 416 affiliated trade unions in 128 countries representing over 10 million workers.

 

 

 

 
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