Get rules right, tribunal told
THE BARBADOS WORKERS’ UNION (BWU) says it is concerned that the new Employment Rights Tribunal gets its procedures and rules right before hearing the National Conservation Commission (NCC) case.
BWU general secretary Sir Roy Trotman said the union wanted the panel to begin its work with a very clear picture of what it should be doing, by proceeding along the lines set out by the legislation and the schedules and underpinned by normal natural and accepted industrial relations protocols and practices.
Sir Roy recalled that the BWU had earlier indicated that it wanted to have a meeting with the tribunal at which it would discuss what were the preliminaries that would be looked at regarding practices and indicated that it wanted, in those discussions, to ensure that its attorney, Edmund King, QC, would be present.
“We want to have our attorney present because this first series of meetings will set the stage for all other meetings that will be held by the Employment Rights Tribunal, and, therefore, when we do it, it has to be done right from the beginning,” Sir Roy said.
Sir Roy also said that the BWU had always insisted that it was not going to enter any knee-jerk reactions because there might be people who had plans for the immediate and the now rather than long term to look after the well-being of workers.
According to Sir Roy, the BWU had also written to indicate that it would wish to stress that, in these discussions, the Chief Labour Office’s mediation role is very important and is set down in Clauses 43 and 44 of the legislation. He stressed that the Chief Labour Office “is not a post office merely as a clearinghouse, but that there are requirements for the Labour Department to enter into a meaningful exercise to ensure that that office is able to resolve any disputes regarding employment rights before the matter is sent on to the tribunal”.
Sir Roy explained that where the Labour Department submits any matter to the tribunal, then it also had to be able to submit reports of its findings in an effort to facilitate and speed up the work that the tribunal is required to do.
He added that the BWU was satisfied that issues such as these must be clearly understood and recognised by everyone before proceedings start in the NCC case.
“At the same time we are very conscious that NCC workers have suffered tremendous pain and suffering because of what was in our view an act of bad faith on the part of the NCC,” Sir Roy said.
“We believe that this has caused significant pain and suffering to the workers and we feel that action should be taken speedily to resolve the issue and we have asked that those meetings be held without undue delay.” (PR/ES)