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(CMC) – The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) says the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has announced plans to send home more than half of its 230-strong workforce while also agreeing to a proposal by the employees’ bargaining agent for voluntary separation.
BWU special advisor and former general secretary, Sir Roy Trotman, speaking to reporters following more than two hours of discussions with CBC management on Monday night, said the union was unsuccessful in its attempt to get the Corporation to give an enhanced separation package to those volunteering to leave.
He said the meeting was a follow up to the one held last Friday where it was decided then that “it was necessary and it was according to the protocol and to the law, that what CBC should do, was to allow first of all for a discussion that would give people the chance to volunteer for separation if they so desired.
“So CBC has done that and we expect that sometime over the next two or three days, those persons who wish to leave CBC would do so,” he said.
“We were hoping to get an enhanced package for those separations, but CBC has been insisting that the circumstances of its finances are so dire that they are unable to go beyond what are the limits set out in the Employment Rights Act and the Severance Payments Act,” Sir Roy told reporters.
In a statement, CBC confirmed that it had agreed with the BWU on the option of voluntary separation.
“The union accepted that voluntary separation will be under the same terms and conditions as those who will be retrenched from the corporation. Those opting for voluntary separation must indicate their willingness to accept the terms and conditions no later than 4 p.m. on Friday 9 November, 2018,” the CBC release said.
The corporation said that severance payments and payment in lieu of notice for those opting for voluntary separation packages, along with the retrenched employees would be as outlined in the Severance Payments Act and the Employment Rights Act.
It said that the two sides will meet on Monday where it will be able to inform the union how many staff have volunteered to leave and have accepted the terms and conditions as well as the remaining positions to be made redundant.
Sir Roy told reporters that the BWU sought unsuccessfully to find out how much the retrenchments would cost the station, describing as “a little sad” its inability to get that costing from the corporation.
“We would think that given the enormity of the separation that would take place we ought to have had a better understanding of cost implications. We ought better to be able to understand what it is that CBC has done, what it is doing and what it will do. Our understanding is that it will be shedding 116 persons or 52 per cent of its current staff. That digs deep. It cuts very, very deep, and it’s painful,” Sir Roy added.
Just last week, the union had announced that workers at the state-owned entity would be receiving a five per cent wage increase and Sir Roy confirmed that talks will be held on Monday with CBC.
“This is 116 of possibly 230. So you can see just how grave that is. We will be meeting again next Monday and we have to start looking at the way by which we are going to approach these separations. There is a commitment to last-in first-out and that is consistent with what we have at the level of the Social Partnership,” he added.
The six month old Mia Mottley government has embarked upon a retrenchment programme in a bid to revitalise the ailing economy. The government has entered into a US$290 million Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).