Freundel Stuart to meet with Barbados union leader

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday January 15, 2013 – Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will meet with officials of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) later on Tuesday as he seeks to ward off a nationwide strike that the union has announced after it failed to get the telecommunications company, Cable and Wireless (Barbados) Limited, to retract dismissal letters sent to nearly 100 workers last week.

BWU General Secretary Sir Roy Trotman told reporters that he had been contacted by Prime Minister Stuart and requested a meeting following a letter he had received from Labour Minister, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo on the labour issue.

“The plans for actions that were made, are the plans for action that were made. We have been slapped in the face by the employer class of Barbados and what we had planned to do, we will do,” Sir Roy said, adding “there will be a general strike, but there will be other stoppages too”.

Earlier this month, the telecommunication company using the brand name LIME, and blaming substantial losses, said that it would be outsourcing its retail operations in a bid to improve its financial position.

LIME managing director Alex McDonald said while the company would be sending home 97 employees 48 new positions would be created.

Sir Roy met with the Labour Minister last week and warned afterwards that if there was no indication that the matter would be resolved, he would be seeking the support of his executive council to declare a national strike.

On Monday, he dismissed claims that the union had walked out of the negotiations.

“How does one go back to the bargaining table which the union never left and never wanted to see anybody leave, when the employer bluntly refused to have any dialogue, when the employer interrupted those discussions by locking out the people and while we were talking about 47 or 48 at the Labour Department before that, sending home 97 instead?”

The Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) has already denounced plans to stage the industrial action.

“Totally disproportionate to the matter at hand and the threat to the economic well-being of the entire country cannot be justified,” said BPSA chairman John Williams, who is also calling on all stakeholders to review their positions and settle the matter without putting Barbados and Barbadians at risk. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)