Talks to prevent Barbados general strike make progress

(Barbados Nation) THE LIME/Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) negotiations have made significant progress after more than 12 hours of talks spilling into the wee hours of this morning, with the telecom-munications giant set to tender an apology on how it has handled the matter.

BWU general secretary Sir Roy Trotman told the media just before 3 a.m. today that the labour movement was reasonably pleased with the talks that were presided over by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

Sir Roy acknowledged that there was still some work to do over the matter that involved the sacking of 97 employees. He added that the union had been disrespected and the apology would pave the way for smoother talks in the future.

“The most important thing is that there has been an undertaking from Cable & Wireless to make an apology, not like the one on Tuesday which was an apology to the process or an apology to the minister for disrespecting her office, but this one has to be an apology [to] those workers who have worked for Cable & Wireless and whose character can be said to have been maligned,” he said.

“Some statements were made which suggested that the workers were so indifferent [about] their jobs that the company has had to get rid of them and bring in any other people.”

Sir Roy said the union was putting together a statement in which an appropriate apology would be proffered to those workers and to the public of Barbados generally.

Prime Minister Stuart did not offer a comment but Sir Roy was in no doubt that Stuart would speak to the country “about the significance of improved and stabilized labour management relations and what there will mean to the welfare of the country”.

Sir Roy said he planned to speak to the public on Tuesday on the matter, with the emphasis on endeavouring that employers, workers, Government and all the stakeholders learn to respect labour management relations.

Some of the workers will receive a package while the fate of 35 others who were supposed to have been dismissed “will follow the accepted process”.

The union boss said he was pleased with the quantum of the package that the workers were receiving.

“I always want more for the workers of Barbados. We were trying to go back to the level of settlement that we had in 2010, but we have not been able to get back.

“That has to be by consensus of the parties but we have been able to get the most critical thing and that was respect for our dignity as workers and workers’ representatives,” Sir Roy said.

When quizzed at 2:30 a.m. this morning after the marathon session, LIME’s managing director Alex McDonald refused comment.

More than 50 people, representing LIME, the union, the Barbados Employers’ Confederation and the Ministry of Labour, were involved in the intense negotiations.

The union first served notice to LIME on January 7 that it would call out its 25 000 national members after the two became locked in a bitter dispute over the letters issued at the beginning of the year.

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