Another Heather Cole Column – Something Happening

Stedson Wiltshire (Red Plastic Bag) gave a vivid description of what is seen on Kadooment Day in a calypso song entitled Something Happening. The joyful song presents a stark contrast to the sobering reality unfolding in Barbados. With a backdrop of Covid-19, the cause of labour unrest is deeply disturbing as it is related to changes in the Severance Pay Act and the refusal of some hotels to pay their potion of the workers’ severance pay. As the reality of this crisis sets in, anguish, lack of information, confusion and frustration confront a large section of the population and now a once docile people seem to be erupting. Protests have become a fixture on the landscape with 40% unemployed predominately in the tourism sector; no one knows how this will end but something is definitely happening.

There is no comparison in recent history to what is now unfolding. Complexity and growth of the economy makes it distinct from the 1930’s but it is noteworthy that there was no labour union to prevent the downward spiral that culminated in the 1937 riots in Barbados. Trade unionism came into existence after the riots to protect the rights of labour in 1941. What is mindboggling is that it was out of the struggle of the black working class that both the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) were conceived and born. Now the relationship is akin to 2 children abandoning their mother. This should never have become a matter of political expediency as the BWU depends on the black working class for financial support and the Barbados Labour party depends on the black working class (the largest voting group) for votes. The action of both has shown that they have joined forces and abandoned this class.

In contrast with the song, one can see questionable union actions. One can query the BWU’s agreement to the BEST Program as it offers less than favourable relief to the workers than to the hotels. The program provides financial assistance to hotels and a wage subsidy to workers but no severance. It was stated that only $30 Million of the $300 Million dollars has been taken by the hotels. Part of the remaining $ 270 Million dollars can be used as severance for the workers. Essentially the BEST program is fundamentally flawed as it does not contain a severance payment option.

One can also query why the recently held press conference only resulted in a solution for the workers of Club Barbados and did not take into consideration the thousands of other unemployed workers. What was required is an across the board solution for the hotel industry and any other affected industries. There were so many twists and turns regarding the story of the workers of Club Barbados that it is difficult to decipher but yet it does not justify treatment as a special case as it leaves out others whose plight is the same.

Both the Prime Minister and Ms. Moore chastised the Media but one cannot imagine how the secret of 40% unemployed in Barbados could be kept, not discussed or their protests not covered if they take to the streets. A fair Press is not the enemy of the people. Highlighting these stories humanized the suffering of the workers. They became real people with real problems and in need of real solutions. We all felt their pain. Change is never a factor that comes into play with silence or secrecy; with them ignorance pervades. What the media can do in addition to highlighting the protest is to utilize the top corner of the new paper to daily post unemployment numbers, NIS payouts as a show of solidarity with the workers and carry stories of how this crisis has affected individual persons and neighbourhoods.

One can see government as having created an environment for the lack of trust. The role of government in any democratic society is to provide an enabling environment for all to flourish. This is exhibited in the provision of social services and laws. When the Severance Payment Act was amended in August 2020, the reason for its changes and the why now could not be justified as it was the midst of the current pandemic. The changes now extend the layoff period from 13 to 22 weeks before they can file for severance and that employees must give 4 weeks notice to the employer prior to the end of the 22 weeks period. It also states that the employer can contest severance. It is a punitive amendment to the law and has led to much confusion and ultimately the amended act is disadvantageous as the underlying principle is to disqualify workers from obtaining severance payments. The level of confidence in the government with regards to the treatment to workers is now at an all-time low.

One can also see that this is not only an economic issue. It is also a matter of social justice. Less than favourable treatment has been meted out to one specific class of the population; the black working class. The same people who for almost 400 years have been feeling the brunt of what occurs in the Barbadian society. This class has the highest rate of unemployment, highest incidence of crime, the highest rate of minimum wages, have a high cost of living, poor housing, reduced access to potable water, are in need of proper roads and combined they pay the highest taxes. The only positive thing that they as a group possess is votes at election time. It is these same people who are in need and are being denied the money that should be theirs. One of the women, a former Club Barbados worker lamented that she feels like George Floyd with the weight of someone’s foot on her neck and that she could not breathe. Do their lives and livelihood matter?

One hopes that now we are in the post Nelson era, that governance comes with an aspect of social justice; that no decisions are made on the behalf of the people without consideration of how the disadvantaged black working class will be affected and that there will be a living wage, programs put in place not for pit toilets but for creating wealth to remove vicious the cycle of poverty. If the opportunity to create wealth can be provided to the already privileged it should also be provided to the black working class. The government saw it fit to compulsorily acquire property on Bay Street to give to a developer. It must also do the same for the black working class through co-operatives for agriculture, business development and housing. It is hoped that laws which still seem to be derived from the slave codes will be removed from the laws of Barbados. This is in reference to laws being written from the punitive point of view of ‘let us deny them that colonial mentality’; as though some things are still just too good for the black working class of Barbados.

The irony of these developments is that both the BWU and BLP have bitten the hand that feeds them.

345 comments

  • “ We have given up the demand for back pay, that is normally not what a trade union is about but we have decided to make that sacrifice because we have said to the Prime Minister and to G4S that we want not just G4S workers to come out ahead of this in circumstances where they can take home a living wage to their families, we want all security workers to have that same benefit.”(QUOTE)

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    WHAT EMPLOYEE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE TOTEM POLE FACING FINANCIAL HARDSHIP AND WHO ARE VERY VERY LOW PAID WORKERS WOULD EACH GIVE UP THOUSANDS OF $$$?

    THESE BLACK BAJANS HAVE BEEN SOLD OUT BY BOTH THE UNION AND BLP PRIME MINISTER TO THE BENEFIT OF G4S SOLELY.

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  • Early April fool joke
    But might also be used as a front to ring the election bell

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  • Those poor G4S workers going to be in for a surprise
    The Union all but handed their heads on a plate to G4S
    No agreement was signed which would have forced G4S to stick by their promise
    G4S is in the drivers seat and can renege on that promise and can if things get dicy between them and govt choose lay off workers

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  • @ Mariposa
    @Baje

    Watch out for redundancies. Now the company is going private, private equity owners used to be called asset strippers for a reason. Do you think a big US?UK company looking to make quick cash cares about a 14×21 island on the edge of the Caribbean?
    Who is going to put in an offer to buy the local business?

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  • The PM will never be able to please you gloomers. She has two years and then the people will decide once more.

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  • @ Enuff December 11, 2020 12:47 PM

    Since you are the ‘red-painted’ polymath on BU (much unlike the ‘know-it-all’ Hal with the Limey Condition) you should be able to explain, rather easily, how a non-negotiable commitment to introduce ‘Minimum Pay’ legislation within a “Mission Critical’ window of “SIX MONTHS” has morphed in a revolving door of 2 MONTHS shy of 3 YEARS?

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  • The PM will never be able to please you gloomers. She has two years and then the people will decide once more.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    YOU CALL BLACK BAJANS SECURITY GUARDS EACH LOSING THOUSANDS $$$ IN BACK PAY BEING SHAFTED BY MIA MOTTLEY AND G4S BEING A POSITIVE STEP?

    NOW TALKING ABOUT A MINUMUM WAGE PROMISED ALMOST 3 YEARS AGO.

    THE ONLY GLOOMER I SEE IS YOU WHO SEEM TO THINK EVERYONE WHO IS NOT PREACHING FROM MIA MOTTLEY AND THE BLP BIBLE ARE STUPID.

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  • G4S and striking employees have signaled they are happy with the settlement. Matter closed, next.

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  • G4S and striking employees have signaled they are happy with the settlement. Matter closed, next.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    CAN YOU BE KIND ENOUGH TO POST THE VIDEO SHOWING THE MANY EMPLOYEES OF G4S WHO EACH LOST THOUSANDS $$$ IN BACK PAY SAYING THAT THEY ARE HAPPY WITH THE AGREEMENT?

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  • Baje can show the video of the calculation that each worker would have gotten thousands of dollars?

    Or where there was an agreement about them getting back pay?

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  • Baje can show the video of the calculation that each worker would have gotten thousands of dollars?

    Or where there was an agreement about them getting back pay?

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    IF YOU WERE FOLLOWING ON BACK PAY DEMANDS WAS ONE OF THE KEY AREAS WORKERS BEING SECURITY GUARDS WERE DEMANDING……

    More than a year after threatening to take action if outstanding issues were not addressed, security officers at G4S Secure Solutions (Barbados) Ltd followed through on that promise.

    Contending their employer was taking advantage of them, scores of workers went on strike today at the security company’s Brighton, Black Rock headquarters.

    The workers said longstanding grievances such as a raise in pay and improved working conditions had still not been addressed.

    Last October, following an over two-hour, closed-door meeting at Solidarity House, security officers gave their employer an ultimatum to fix the problems or face strike action.

    At the time the major bones of contention were the fact that workers had not received a pay hike in over six years and that they were being paid less than the negotiated wage between the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the company.

    https://barbadostoday.bb/2020/11/25/security-company-workers-down-tools/

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  • I see improve working conditions and a pay raise

    The only time I see anything mentioned about back pay is when trotman said they give up that demand

    Do you understand that in negotiations u do not get everything u want?
    U usually start at a point and try to meet in the middle with a “win” for both parties

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  • I see improve working conditions and a pay raise

    The only time I see anything mentioned about back pay is when trotman said they give up that demand

    Do you understand that in negotiations u do not get everything u want?
    U usually start at a point and try to meet in the middle with a “win” for both parties

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    ST)P TALKING SHITE.

    DO YOU UNDERSTAND “that they were being paid less than the negotiated wage between the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the company” FOR AT LEAST 6 YEARS.

    NOW IF YOU ROB SOMEONE WHO IS POOR WORKING CLASS OF THOUSANDS $$$ OWED TO HIM/HER AND SAYS IT IS A WIN MUST BE ON SOME KIND OF HALLUCINATION DRUG.

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  • HERE IS SOME MORE INFORMATION SINCE I KNOW YOU LIKE A FISH SWALLOW ANYTHING THE BLP THROWS OUT TO YOU ON THEIR FISHING LINE:

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    However, a source who attended the meeting told Barbados TODAY that workers were frustrated, with a salary increase owed for the last six years and back pay from 2016 outstanding.

    “This problem with salary increases and back pay is a longstanding issue. The union told us that they had sent paperwork to G4S and were now waiting for them to sign it and return it. But some of the workers believe that this has been going on for too long and they are very upset about not being paid. Some of them said they were giving G4S a month and if they haven’t replied by then, they will take action,” the source told Barbados TODAY.

    An officer who has been employed at the security company for almost a decade said the turnout for yesterday’s meeting demonstrated that her colleagues had had enough.

    https://barbadostoday.bb/2019/10/11/restive-workers-2/

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  • @ Baje

    Don’t be provoked. Even if they poked out the eyes of the guards some people will still say it was a ‘win’.

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  • @ Baje

    Don’t be provoked. Even if they poked out the eyes of the guards some people will still say it was a ‘win’.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    @ Hal

    I AM NOT PROVOKED.

    IT AMAZES ME DAILY HOW SO MANY BLACK BAJANS WALLOW IN BLATANT STUPIDITY AND UNCARING FOR THEIR FELLOW BLACK MAN/WOMAN.

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  • Maybe the worker should leave bwu and have u negotiate for them
    I keep tell u guys. The unions is not Toni or trotti. But the workers
    If the workers don’t wanta give up the thousand of dollars (according to u) then the unions leaders couldn’t take that off the table .

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  • https://barbadostoday.bb/2019/10/11/restive-workers-2/

    Xxxxxxxxxx

    Do you understand that that article is 2 months ago?

    Do u u derstand the meaning to negotiations?

    Do u understand that at the end of negotiations the workers gave up the rights to back pay?
    ( most likely to maintain the jobs of a few)

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  • No they do not understand the long game, the workers do.

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  • Baje

    Ur can be approx 3k in back pay if the worker worked 40 hrs a week. It would be more if the worked OT. And less if they weren’t in a 40 hrs schedule

    Now they are Garanteed 40hrs and a raise

    So that’s at less 18283/ year with possibility of OT.

    In these hard economics time which you think the workers would vote for

    3000k back and possibility of some going home – to make up for the raise + back pay

    Or at least 18k / yr for all

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  • The ones that were under paid were making 15433.60 /yr for a 40hrs week

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  • Baje

    Ur can be approx 3k in back pay if the worker worked 40 hrs a week. It would be more if the worked OT. And less if they weren’t in a 40 hrs schedule

    Now they are Garanteed 40hrs and a raise

    So that’s at less 18283/ year with possibility of OT.

    In these hard economics time which you think the workers would vote for

    3000k back and possibility of some going home – to make up for the raise + back pay

    Or at least 18k / yr for all

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    ARE YOU A DIRECTOR OF G4S THAT YOU CAN GUARANTEE IN WRITING SOMETIME IN 2021 THAT SOME OF THESE SAME BLACK SECURITY GUARD MEN AND WOMEN WON’T BE SENT HOME AS A COST CUTTING MEASURE.

    SINCE YOU ARE NOT SO STOP TALKING THROUGH YOUR ASS.

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  • The workers accepted, if they did not agree they would have called for strike action to continue.

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  • Baje you ar a big ass

    in any company workers can go home at any point in time, 2021 or anytime after.

    so you continue showing the ass you are.

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  • We will.know with certainty what the workers agreed on come Jan1st
    The only voices heard were Mia the spokesperson for G4S and trotman
    Not even Moore who should have been the main person in the negotiations said nothing on behalf of the workers
    Jan and April gonna be two important months in the lives of bajan households
    Private sector already crying about low sales and having to coughed up money not going to be pretty

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  • John 2 do not worry with the 3 degree jackass as he clearly does not understand negotiations.I do not know why you have to work for G4S to have basic common sense.What you posted makes sense to me and apparently the workers.Bottom line the hand waving despot has stepped up and show leadership from the front unlike the bellyachers preference in the ex PM and that does not suit their political agenda.They have another 2 years plus another 10 years to bray and bellyache because thst is all they can do.Most of them never run a bread shop far less a country.Who the hell what to hear any advive from them or elected them to be their spokesmen.Go take a flying leap bunch of jokers.

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  • In these hard economics time which you think the workers would vote for

    3000k back and possibility of some going home – to make up for the raise + back pay

    Or at least 18k / yr for all

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Baje you ar a big ass

    in any company workers can go home at any point in time, 2021 or anytime after.

    so you continue showing the ass you are.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    LOOK IN THE MIRROR TO SEE WHO IS THE REAL ASS.

    EVEN THE WORDS YOU USE ARE CONTRADICTORY.

    Like

  • Lorenzo

    If i am correct that G4S are responsible for airport departure screenings then, with the treat of a national strike by BWU, the hand waving despot had to step up. or did she only step up cause she love the limelight?

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  • @ac

    Trotman represented the BWU, is Tor head so hard?

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  • Baje yuh ass

    if you did one of the workers which on would you vote for ?

    the company can close down at any point in time and send home all the workers. when you negotiating you supposed to do so in “good faith”.

    I was not in on the negotiations and do not know what promises/guarantees were given by any of the parties – beside what was published in the press.

    So only a jack would not understand that i was speaking in general.

    FYI – some of the workers can be sent home for cost cutting …..agreed
    .BUT – if if some are sent home for cost cutting for only a raise then MORE would be sent home if the company have to pay both a raise and back pay.
    ALSO
    the same way some can be sent home – MORE can be hired and benefit from the agreement IF/When the economy turn around

    so continue being the jackass you are. the 3 degree you bought were not worth the pennies you spent on then IMO

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  • This so called arrangement will fail when put to the test of reality
    Unfortunately the workers have agreed to God only knows what

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  • @ john2December 11, 2020 6:17 PM
    “the company can close down at any point in time and send home all the workers. when you negotiating you supposed to do so in “good faith”.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Was that ‘Collective Bargaining’ principle also applicable when the unions representing the public sector workers were ‘in cahoots’ and demanded unrealistic salary increases of over 20% under the last administration who were fiscally up a creek without a ‘borrowed’ IMF paddle?

    Wasn’t it also a trade-off between fiscally unaffordable salary increases and saving jobs which eventually turned out to be so by the same union players accepting a much lower increase of 4 to 5 % under the current administration despite the massive hike in the CoL?

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  • We have a disproportionate number of legal personnel in Barbados. Are none of them prepared to challenge what appears to be the underpayment of workers since 2014. Does G4S not have a legal right to back pay its workforce? Are Barbados employment laws sufficiently robust or are they not being enforced.

    Has the government recently become cognisant of the travails of Barbados work force? Hal will often state that historically our governments have been incompetent rather then corrupt. The people of Barbados must bring to an end incompetent governments in Barbados. We cannot continue to reward corruption and mediocrity.

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  • @ Miller

    THEY ARE TOO DECEPTIVE AND DISHONEST TO ANSWER TRUSTFULLY.

    EVEN BOASTING THAT THE LOWLY PAID G4S BLACK WORKERS ARE PLEASED WITH LOSING THEIR BACK PAY OVER SEVERAL YEARS BUT NOT A VIDEO OR ARTICLE TO THAT EFFECT FROM SAID WORKERS.

    THEY ARE THE TRUE EPITOME OF SNAKE OIL SALESMEN.

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  • Miller

    i am tired saying here – everyone wanted to see the back of that DLP goverment.- IMO thats the most important factor in the refusal. there are also other reasons – like why the workers elected and backed akanni to represent them (which further streghten my first point). etc

    The 20% was not a DEMAND – of was the first offer put on the table by the union/s to START negotiations.

    If you want 10% that that DLP “repaid” themselves you aint going put an offer for 12%

    Restoring their 10% is part of what the union took into consideration. ( that the gov wasnt really “up no creek”0

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  • Do you understand through your think skulls that the workers who sat arpound the table have agreed to the deal?

    #jesus

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  • david

    too much degrees hardened head

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  • miller

    ALSO

    the 20% increase was for 10 years of no increase.

    if i remember correctly – the 5% was for one year ( which i expect now to be extended for a few more years)

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  • @ David,
    You need to raise your bar from of the ground.
    The story below may raise your eye brows.

    https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/dec/11/mastercard-class-action-gets-court-uk

    Like

  • Senator Caswell cannot be correct all the time.

    The Club workers get severance money
    The 150 former employees at The Club Resort & Spa have received their severance pay.
    In a letter dated November 24, general manager Caroline Gallichan-Hurley told the workers that the West Coast property secured funding and they no longer had to go through the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to receive their money.
    The letter read: “As of today, all former Club Barbados employees have received their accrued vacation pay, notice pay, and 25 per cent of their severance pay. We have been working hard to obtain the funds needed to pay the remaining 75 per cent of your severance pay, and we are pleased to advise that we have now secured financing that will enable us to distribute your final payments immediately . . . . We have notified the NIS that we no longer require NIS financing, as we have secured alternative funding.”
    Workers collected their cheques at the Vauxhall, St James property. Those whose surnames begin with letters A to M received their final cheque on November 27 while those with surnames N to Z received theirs on December 1.
    One worker said he was happy to receive his money.
    “I remained calm with my fingers crossed till I received the cheque in my hand,” he said. “After I got it I was very happy ’cause after a rough year I can have a good Christmas.”
    On November 17, about 50 workers protested outside the West Coast property demanding their outstanding money. Management at the hotel had originally promised to pay the outstanding money on November 21, but announced that due to financial issues they could no longer follow through.
    (SB)

    Source: Nation

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  • G4S unrest highlights lacunas in labour law
    By Michelle M. Russell

    Last week, I followed with great interest the continuation of the G4S industrial unrest. I remained supportive of the stance taken by the workers to continue to advocate for equal pay among security workers, among other claims.
    The intervention of Prime Minister Mia Mottley saw the delay of further threatened strike action resulting from her request that the union and workers await a requested legal opinion on whether G4S, by its actions, were in breach of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions.
    It was not immediately clear to me how a legal opinion which focused on breach of international labour standards would produce results needed to resolve the claims for these workers.
    Rather, I thought the focus should have been on the defects in our local labour laws which had allowed these issues to arise in the first place. In my opinion, the G4S unrest highlighted three major failings in our own labour laws: the lack of an updated Wages Act and/or equal pay legislation, the absence of a legislated national minimum wage and the absence of trade union legislation to deal with breaches of agreements between employers and trade unions.
    In a statement in Friday’s Weekend Nation, the management of G4S advised that they have not acted in breach of any local labour laws.
    While on the surface this seems like a surprising statement, they are not wrong. There is a big difference between law and morality.
    Legally wrong
    Not every moral wrong constitutes a legal wrong or breach of law. For instance, it is morally wrong to covet thy neighbour’s wife, husband, woman or man, also known as giving a horn. However giving a horn breaches no laws. There is no doubt that it is morally reprehensible to pay different wages to employees who do the same work. However, since there is no legislated minimum wage and no equal pay legislation or provisions, this morally reprehensible act is not legally wrong.
    For many years, Barbados has had an accepted minimum wage for shop workers of $6.25 per hour.
    This has been used by most employers as the minimum wage payable in most industries, though it is not law.
    G4S workers were being paid above the accepted minimum wage at between $7.42 and $8.79 per hour.
    Additionally, though inequitable to pay different wages to workers who do the same job (by hiding behind a very slight difference in job titles) Barbados, unlike many other Caribbean jurisdictions does not have equal pay legislation or provisions that make this practice illegal.
    Equal pay provisions primarily address the need for equal pay for work of equal value regardless of gender.
    However, the same principle would apply to people of the same gender doing the same work. It is arguable whether this issue could be subsumed under section 5(e) of the new Prevention of Discrimination in Employment Act. If Barbados had equal pay provisions then the actions of G4S would have been a breach of law and resulted in civil or criminal liability.
    Finally, based on media reports, the management of G4S had acted in breach of an agreement it previously had with the union. However Barbados has no specific industrial relations legislation as do some jurisdictions such as Trinidad and Tobago.
    Consequently, trade unions struggle to find recourse when an employer fails to recognise them as the representative body or when there is a breakdown in an agreement or negotiations with an employer. However, I am no trade unionist, so I will leave them to lobby for the legislation needed for their industry.
    In short, the G4S unrest highlighted areas in our own labour laws that require redress. I am happy that after further talks, the management has agreed to regularise wages among all security officers commencing January 2021. I am even more satisfied that Mottley has advised that steps are being taken to establish various national minimum wages by April 2021. I only hope that the Prime Minister adds to the list of amendments, the need for legislation to address equal pay among workers doing the same jobs.

    Michelle M. Russell is an Attorney-at-Law with a passion for Employment Law and Labour matters. Email: mrussell.ja@gmail.com

    Source: Nation

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  • Oh what a tangle web we weave when we practice to deceive
    Thanks COVID for bringing to the surface the deceptive nature of govt and govt covert intention to deceive workers
    When all is said and done the G4S workers would be put out to pasture while the G4S management ride out into the sunset guided by law
    Muttley can play all she wants with the minds of the people but one day coming soon things gonna get real ugly
    The hand writing is already on the wall

    Like

  • Mari

    You lie
    The government was deceptive from May 2018

    Like

  • Back in business
    Savannah to pay out severance this week
    by BARRY ALLEYNE barryalleyne@nationnews.com
    THE SAVANNAH HOTEL will be back in business next month.
    And there’s more good news for scores of former staff who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, with operators of the Hastings, Christ Church property, Sun Group Hotels, reporting that severance pay due to those workers will start being disseminated from this week.
    Last month, more than 50 disgruntled workers protested outside Savannah, demanding that management give an indication when their severance would be paid, and through what channels.
    In an exclusive interview with the DAILY NATION yesterday, chairman of the Sun Group, Bernie Weatherhead, revealed that from this week, the company would pay outright, severance payments valued under $10 000.
    Payments
    Those more than $10 000 would be disbursed in two stages: 50 per cent in the first instance, which would also be paid this week, and the remainder on or before February 26 next year.
    “There is nothing I value more than the people who have helped me build and carry these businesses over the years. While I’m trying to meet my legal obligations, I want to reiterate that I am concurrently fighting to ensure that all of Sun Group Inc.’s businesses can return to their pre-COVID levels of prosperity, for the benefit of this country,” he noted.
    The group comprises Savannah, Worthing Court Apartments, Time Out At The Gap, Sugar Cane Club, Sun Tours, Sun General Insurance and Drive-a-matic Car Rentals.
    Weatherhead said people rehired would retain their full contribution of years in service to the Savannah Hotel.
    He also spoke about the effect of the crisis.
    “It says a lot about the COVID-19 pandemic, that even with over 50 years of experience in the hospitality industry, I’ve never experienced an event with such a drastic impact on how we live and work.

    There is no instruction manual nor blueprint that charts the way toward normalcy. We are truly in this fight together.”
    The chairman said the pandemic had been a tragedy for Sun Group Inc. as a result of the contraction of the tourism sector.
    “There is no sugar-coating it. To put things into perspective and give an example of what has been going on behind the scenes, our rental car company, the largest in the island, offloaded over $2 million in the sale of vehicles this year. That windfall was immediately directed toward assisting many of our companies with severance payments.”
    The Sun Group boss added that in order to ensure the businesses stayed afloat and continued to employ as many Barbadians as possible, they had to exercise prudence in the management of their cash flow.
    “As a company, our success and resilience over the years has been solely down to the hard work of our staff. Recognising this, Sun Group Inc. has always had stellar relations with workers’ unions and with its staff, even to this day,” he said.
    Weatherhead said the Savannah Hotel situation was deeply saddening on a personal level for him and it was important to share some insight into what led to the hotel being the only business in Sun Group Inc.’s portfolio to experience delays in severance payments.
    “In the last two years of its operation, Savannah lost considerable money. To then face the burden of the payout was not something we could do all at once. Due to protracted negotiations with Hotels and Resorts Limited over the purchase of the Savannah Hotel property, the decision regarding the retention of full-time staff was delayed. The complexity of the talks meant that I was unable to disclose when exactly the hotel would resume operations and consequently rehire its staff.” He added that with negotiations now near completion, with immediate effect Savannah would be rehiring members of staff who were keen on continuing their years of employment. “I can confidently add that we will reopen in January, and much-needed renovations will be undertaken at the conclusion of the 2020 winter season,” Weatherhead said. Former workers have been advised to check in with the hotel’s human resource department this week for further advice regarding their severance payments. During her press conference last Thursday night at Ilaro Court, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the management of Savannah had been meeting with Government, but called on Weatherhead to speak publicly on the matter.
    “He needs to speak to the country and contextualise his position. In fairness, his position at Savannah became entangled with the offer to purchase as a result of a request for proposals. I believe there is a way out,” Mottley said.

    Source: Nation

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  • Govt looking to update severance payment law
    GOVERNMENT WILL be revisiting Barbados’ severance pay legislation to correct deficiencies highlighted during the current impasse between employers and employees as a consequence of the fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic.
    Updating a virtual International Labour Organisation Decent Work Team and Caribbean Labour Organisation meeting yesterday on the status of labour in Barbados, Minister of Labour Colin Jordan said Barbados would be addressing the situation “where businesses that are levelled for severance and are neglecting to, or in some cases refusing to make those severance payments when those severance payments become due.”
    “We have to look at how we make sure that businesses are held accountable so that if the government has to finance the claims up front, that there is a guarantee that the business some time thereafter meets it its obligations,” he said.
    The Labour Minister said claims to severance “sometimes take too long and we have started to expedite the process (and) some more work has to be done on that.”
    He said the National Insurance Scheme had been inundated with unemployment claims from 32 000 people, however, up to the middle of last month about 13 000 of those people had gone back to work, representing about 40 per cent of the laid off who had returned to work up to the middle of November Though he said the area of consultation before layoffs “has to be tightened”, the Labour Minister gave a hopeful projection on the future for Barbados’ labour force saying he anticipated “full recovery” from the current situation and added the social dialogue was ‘strong’.
    He advised more emphasis would be placed on occupational safety and health, with the relevant Act to be strengthened by regulations to go along with the legislation.
    Jordan said in view of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic had forced more people to work from home, occupational health and safety would have to be considered for that development.
    President of the Caribbean Employers Confederation Wayne Chen complimented Barbados on the work it had done towards creating a more harmonious labour environment. (GC)

    Source: Nation

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