Trade union warns of industrial action at Barbados airport if staff not paid

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GAIA

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday January 28, 2016 – Management of the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) has until today to favourably respond to demands by the country’s largest public sector trade union for payment of outstanding monies for workers, or face industrial action as early as tomorrow.

The ultimatum has been issued by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), over what it says is an outstanding 3.5 per cent wage increase owed from as far back as 2011.

Speaking after a meeting with the airport workers yesterday, general secretary Roslyn Smith said the union was awaiting a response from the GAIA Inc.

“We have given management until [Thursday] evening to respond to us, failing which we will start whatever action that is necessary to let the management, the Board of Directors, the Minister of International Transport and all of those involved in this exercise know that we are serious on this matter,” she said.

Online newspaper Barbados Today has quoted a January 18 letter from the GAIA to the NUPW which suggests that the union had previously agreed to forego the increase. The newspaper said the correspondence made reference to a December 28, 2010 meeting with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, at which an agreement was reached that workers would get a four per cent pay rise for 2010 but the 3.5 per cent hike would be taken off the table.

But Smith and NUPW president Akanni McDowall insist the workers are owed that latter increase.

“Our evidence, our research, our correspondence suggest that they owe the workers 3.5 per cent. We have shown evidence to management that the workers are owed 3.5 per cent,” McDowall said yesterday. “If management has a position where they are saying they do not owe the money, they need to bring it and show us.”

Smith had also indicated in a January 25 letter responding to the GAIA correspondence, according to the Barbados Today report, that the union had made it clear it would revisit the 2011 increases if the economy showed improvement by June of that year and, “based on the fact that the company made profits over the last five years, it proves the union is correct in seeking the outstanding salary increases for staff”.

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