A meeting between the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) Board and the recently retired BIDC workers has not yielded an amicable solution.
Speaking to the media this afternoon at a press conference after the two-hour plus meeting earlier today at his Reef Road office, Industry Minister, Donville Inniss, said that they needed to reflect upon some of the fundamental issues at stake, as pointed out in the meeting.
He said one of the issues was the right of the NUPW to be consulted in these matters and their interpretation of the Employment Rights Act, and while the BIDC was reducing staff levels beyond a certain point, there was no need for the Union to be involved.
???The BIDC pointed out that it speaks to redundancy and not retirement and therefore there was no need for the Union to be heavily involved in the conversation prior to the Board???s decision. I suspect, however, that it is a point of law that will have to be interpreted by the Courts in Barbados, unless there can be a meeting of the minds somewhere down the line,??? the Minister stated.
Mr. Inniss continued that the other issue was the number of persons that had been sent on retirement. He said the Union kept referring to 13 individuals; however, at the BIDC up until May this year, there were 13 individuals who had reached the age of 60, and two of those persons prior to the Board decision indicated to management that they wished to retire by August of this year.
He added that one other individual in the age category was not appointed in a post and therefore the matters at hand were not relevant to that person.?????So, it is 10 individuals who have obtained the age of 60 plus that are being retired according to BIDC within the Laws of Barbados. Let me point out that I am satisfied as Minister that there has not been any major disadvantage in that respect.
“All of these individuals who the Board has determined shall retire by September 30 have received almost four months??? pay in lieu of notice, all vacation pay that has been accrued to them and in some cases that would have reached as high as BDS$52, 000. And, those cheques were issued two weeks ago, and as far as I have been advised they have all cleared the bank, and those 10 members of staff have signed as accepting ???,??? he maintained.
Mr. Inniss also pointed out that come September 30 this year, the said individuals shall receive their gratuity in keeping with the laws of the land and there again, it would be a considerable sum that would be paid to them.??He also indicated that effective October this year, they would start to receive a pension in keeping with the Pensions Act, which the BIDC would have had in place over the years.
???Notwithstanding, the pension plan of the BIDC, some of the individuals would receive a further pension because some of them had been employed elsewhere in the public sector prior to joining BIDC. Now, I cannot, nor can anybody on the BIDC Board or management speak to the impact that any change in financial numeration will have on any employee at any age or any stage in their life that is a very individual matter,??? he said.
Mr. Inniss insisted that he was satisfied that the BIDC Board and management acted in a very humane manner in respect of this matter.