The National Workers Union (NWU) has written to the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) of Barbados to express its support for planned protest action against the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC).
In a letter dated July 3, 2015, the NWU said, “We have been following with keen interest the harsh and wicked treatment being unleashed on your members employed in statutory corporations and workers in general in Barbados.”
It went on to state that while the NUPW has made itself available for discussion on industrial matters relating to its members, it is clear that the “powers that be” demonstrate a higher level of insensitivity and disrespect for workers and their trade unions.
“This kind of behavior justifies your intended action slated for Monday, July 6, 2015. These people understand only one thing – “Brute Force,” the NWU further stated.
The NUPW has announced that it will follow through on its threat of a national shutdown, with President Akanni McDowall declaring that “war” has been declared on the country’s labour force.
The decision followed the breakdown of talks between the BIDC and the NUPW, chaired by Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, ended in a stalemate on Wednesday.
Public servants started the protest since 8:30 a.m. today.
The BIDC sent home 13 people – 10 of whom it retired –, as it invoked its right under the Statutory Boards (Pensions) Act to retire officers reaching the age of 60. Two of the other three had indicated, prior to the BIDC’s decision, that they wanted to retire by August, while the other was not appointed in a post.
The NUPW has insisted the move was illegal and has demanded an apology from the government agency for not consulting with it before sending home the workers, and either the withdrawal of the retirement letter or a commitment from the BIDC to pay the workers until they reach 67, the age at which retirement will be compulsory from January 2018.
“The unilateral stance taken by the BIDC to force retirement on a number of its employees is a reminder of the injustices to workers in Barbados. If this situation is not arrested, it raises the question of who will be next?” McDowall asked as he urged all stakeholders to join in the NUPW action.