Barbados’ Largest Public Sector Union to Follow Through on Strike Threat

NUPW General Treasurer Asokore Beckles (left) and President Akanni McDowall (right) at a meeting with shop stewards after the deadline passed with no government response.

 

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday January 16, 2018 – The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has announced it will embark on a public sector strike, following the failure of the Freundel Stuart-led administration to respond to its pay concerns by yesterday.

The largest public sector union in Barbados had issued an ultimatum to the government to address its issues or there would be industrial action.

Speaking to the media after NUPW executives met with shop stewards yesterday evening, union president Akanni McDowall said he was disappointed with government’s lack of response, while emphasizing that the NUPW was prepared to fight to the bitter end for pay increases for its members.

“We would have given the Government an ultimatum to conclude salary negotiations by January 15…We also told them that if they did not do so we would go full on into industrial action. Unfortunately, the Government has chosen not to respond, so therefore the union is left with no choice but to take industrial action,” he said, though stopping just short of announcing precisely when the planned protests would begin and how widespread the action would be.

The NUPW boss did say, however, that all options were on the table. He also stressed that the time for talk was over and it would take much more than an invitation to get them to return to the negotiation table with Government.

“All gloves are off. The mandate from the [NUPW’s executive] council and the general membership was that the Government must conclude negotiations by today, so we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to conclude salary negotiations,” he said.

The NUPW president also hinted at the involvement of sister trade unions in the protests.

“We are prepared to do whatever is necessary, and that includes forming whatever partnerships are needed and that includes speaking to whomever we have to speak to. We have been in constant contact with all of our partners that would allow us to do this,” McDowall added.

The development comes just over a month after Government offered to make a BDS$49 million (US$24.5 million) lump sum payment to civil servants, which was rejected by the NUPW.

Instead, the union is proposing a BDSD$60 million (US$30 million) lump sum, which would allow for an across-the-board BDS$2,500 (US$1,250) payment.

The NUPW, which has been demanding a 23 per cent increase, stressed that the lump sum was not a substitute for the proposed pay hike, which has been outstanding for the past ten years. In fact, the union had called for both matters to be settled by yesterday. (Adapted from Barbados Today)

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