Government and trade union officials will meet tomorrow to restart negotiations pertaining to the transitioning of customs workers into the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA), with the objective of ???arriving at an expeditious conclusion???.
This disclosure came recently from Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, who said the discussions, would seek to clarify all outstanding issues pertaining to the security of workers who might opt to move to the BRA.
Describing the near three-and-a-half hour meeting which he chaired last Thursday as ???full, frank and fruitful???, Mr. Sinckler further revealed that three points were agreed to by those at the table.
???The parties agreed that as an act of good faith and in keeping with good industrial relations practice, that the current option forms issued would be rescinded and that normal operations within the Customs would be restored immediately,??? he said.??He stressed that it was never Government???s intention to cause any disadvantage to workers.
???In fact, our expressed position has been in all of these transition exercises to ensure, as much as is humanly possible, that the rights of the workers are maintained as they opt to transition. And for those who may opt not to transition, that they also continue to be dealt with as they ought to be, both under law and in relation to what we would consider good practice.
???And so, if anything would have transpired to have given the impression or to have created the state of mind among the workers that such was not the case, I want to say publicly that that was not the intention of the Government,??? he insisted. ??
Stating that Government was operating under fairly stringent circumstances, Mr. Sinckler noted that there were some operational things that had to be done to ensure increased productivity and efficiency in the public service, as well as a reduction in the overall cost to Government in terms of the administration of public affairs.
He continued: ???We don???t have an extended time table within which to operate. We have to move with some degree of haste, but in doing so, haste does not mean and should not mean that we cast aside the rights of any particular worker within our employ, whether that is an appointed officer in the service or a temporary worker.???
The Finance Minister emphasised that the parties agreed they would work to get through the issues. However, he said a number of matters had already been resolved over the past months and there were only a few outstanding ones to be addressed.
Those present at the meeting included General Secretary of the Barbados Workers??? Union, Toni Moore; her Advisor, Sir Roy Trotman; President of the National Union of Public Workers, Akanni McDowell; Acting General Secretary, Roslyn Smith; some employees of the Customs Department; Acting Head of the Civil Service, Martin Cox; Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Betty Alleyne-Headley; Revenue Commissioner, Margaret Sivers; Chief Personnel Officer, Gail Atkins; and several senior civil servants.??