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NUPW: Until Govt gets the message

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

NUPW: Until Govt gets the message

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OFFICIALS OF THE National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) say they are prepared to talk to workers until Government gets the message concerning the retrenching of almost 200 employees of the National Conservation Commission (NCC).
First vice president of the union Akanni McDowall, made this clear to the NATION ahead of the start of this morning’s talks with NCC staff who had been summoned to a gathering at the Horatio Cooke Auditorium at the NUPW’s Dalkeith, St Michael, headquarters.
McDowall explained that they would talk to the workers until they heard something from the Freundel Stuart Cabinet, which is currently meeting – as it does every Thursday – and if it became necessary, they would call them back to the headquarters tomorrow for another day of talks. He warned, however, the union was prepared to escalate the action to ensure Government understands its position.
This means for the rest of today, the NCC’s headquarters in Codrington Hill and its facilities around the country remain largely devoid of staff.
McDowall explained that the union continued to object to the criteria used by the NCC to determine who would be sent home. While they understood that the last-in, first-out principle could not be the only criterion applied, they could not accept a situation where someone with between ten and 14 years’ service was made redundant, while someone who just started was retained.
“The NCC is insisting that what they did was transparent, honest and fair and they do not now feel that they have to go back to any list we want prepared,” McDowall said.
“They say they are comfortable with what they did. For instance, they said they looked at single parent homes, which might explain why they chose one person over another, but as far as we are concerned that was highly subjective and lacked the involvement of those with the expertise like the Welfare Department. They have not involved the correct stakeholders…”
He added that the union was hoping the Cabinet would be able to convince the NCC of the need to get back to the table and look at compiling “contentious lists” so that meaningful discussions can take place.
McDowall stressed that as a trade unionist he was uncomfortable having any discussion about which workers should lose their jobs, since the very purpose of the union is to try to preserve jobs. However, since it was clear that layoffs would take place, their duty was to ensure that fairness prevailed throughout the process. (RRM)