St. Lucia trade union supports industrial action in Barbados

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In this scene from yesterday’s protest action, president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union Mary Redman (centre, in red), joined hands with other trade unionists and members. (Photo: Barbados Today)

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Tuesday July 7, 2015 – Barbados’ National Union of Public Workers isn’t only getting support from other trade unions in the country for its industrial action against government.

St. Lucia’s National Workers Union (NWU) has thrown its support behind the NUPW – the largest public sector trade union in Barbados – as well.

The NUPW yesterday staged a mass protest through the capital, Bridgetown, that attracted about 5,000 public sector workers and those who agreed with their cause.

The industrial action was sparked by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) sending 10 workers, over the age of 60, on retirement, invoking its right under the Statutory Boards (Pensions) Act to retire officers reaching that age. The NUPW, describing the action as illegal, has insisted that the statutory body either reinstate the workers or pay them until the age of 67, which is the age at which retirement will be compulsory from 2018.

In a letter to the NUPW to express solidarity, the NWU said it had 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”, according to St Lucia News Online.

Agreeing with the union’s position that the powers that be have demonstrated disrespected for workers and their representatives, the NWU said that behaviour justified the NUPW’s action.

“These people understand only one thing – brute force,” the NWU stated.

The NUPW said it would be following up yesterday’s protest – which was Phase 1 of its plan – with four more phases of industrial action if its demands for the BIDC workers are not met.

However, it has not disclosed what those phases would entail.

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