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BWU warns Customs

marciadottin, [email protected]

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Customs officers and guards may soon be taking protest action to force Government to pay their overtime allowances.The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), which represents some of these employees, warned yesterday that it would sanction some “industrial action” to get the matter settled.A one-page statement from the union did not explain just what the protest action would be.However, it said BWU general secretary Sir Roy Trotman hinted that the action may touch those other areas of work where Customs guards and officers “inter-link at work with other BWU members”.The dispute between the Customs employees and Government surfaced in March, with Customs officers staging a work-to-rule protest action and threatening to escalate the protest should their demands not be met.Cess News, the customs officers newsletter, said then that some officers had been paid and the Customs Department had been given until March 4 “to pay outstanding monies to the other officers who have not been paid so far”. Those owed overtime payments were said to be officers attached to the Grantley Adams International Airport, the Bridgetown Port and Port St Charles, St Peter. Both the BWU and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) represent these employees. According to the BWU statement, Sir Roy said he would recommend to the union’s executive council, in its meeting on Wednesday, that the labour organiser embark on a course of industrial action against the Ministry of the Civil Service. Sir Roy charged that the Ministry of the Civil Service had “guided” the Ministry of Finance to withhold the overtime allowances. According to Sir Roy, the Ministry of the Civil Service had been instructed by Prime Minister David Thompson late in March to meet the union and settle the dispute, but had not done so.However, Sir Roy has kept the door open to the possibility of an amicable settlement. According to the union, he has made the point that the BWU “would not spurn any serious last-minute attempts at resolution”. Meanwhile the veteran trade unionist said the “timing and nature of the industrial action will be within the absolute discretion of the union”.  Efforts to reach Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Civil Service, Ronald Fitt, yesterday for a comment proved unsuccessful. (TY)