Sunday 29 March, 2020

BWU, CXC break down; impasse referred to Labour Minister

Barbados Workers' Union General Secretary, Senator Toni Moore

Barbados Workers' Union General Secretary, Senator Toni Moore

Up to around 11 p.m. Friday, talks to settle the impasse between the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the Caribbean Examination’s Council (CXC) were ongoing after the matter which was escalated to Chief Labour Officer, Victor Felix last night, was referred to the Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan.

For the second straight day, unionized employed staged protest action outside of the regional examination body’s Prince Road, Pine Plantation Road headquarters.  At issue for staff are vacancy advertisements, which are being circulated by CXC, in the midst of ongoing negotiations with the BWU on restructuring the 47-year-old body.

Speaking around 5:30 p.m. at the Union’s Solidarity House Headquarters before heading to meet the minister, BWU General Secretary Senator Toni Moore said the Union had some concerns regarding statements by the CXC that management is firmly committed to ensuring that the business of the Caribbean Examinations Council will continue without disruption.

She told journalists, “if the CXC posted a statement in which it is saying that operations will continue, then I think that based from the CXC’s viewpoint, they are clearly stating to the public that there is no need to worry.  We know otherwise because we would be aware that some of the processes that are very key to completing a lot of CXC’s work would be hampered by those who are on the outside. 

“That is why the union is particularly interested in having the CXC reach a point where they recognize that they have to pull back on the vacancies so that workers can return to work and the calm that they are trying to maintain in the public that that calm and confidence in the processes to deliver on schedule that that can actually be the reality.”

The two parties entered talks today just after 11 a.m. under the chairmanship of the Chief Labour Officer and adjourned just before 4:30 p.m. with little to no headway being made.

Senator Moore noted that the BWU was adamant that the CXC was previous in posting vacancy notices, which should be retracted, and, once this was done, restructuring talks that have been ongoing for some time, would continue.

“After an adjournment of over four hours, the CXC came back reiterating its position that it could not retract the letters.  The reasons that they have offered up to now relate to the cost of retracting the letters, and the reputational damage to the CXC if they have to retract the letters.  The BWU remains insistent that this should not preoccupy what should be a principled stance that in order to bring back discussions to a point of good faith, that the letter must be retracted.

“To do otherwise . . . to have them hanging, and, to have a situation where people are still applying for vacancies advertised for which there are incumbents to those positions, would be to create a situation where current workers of the CXC [would] find themselves operating in a situation where they have no job security . . . those letters must be retracted,” she stated while revealing that over 20 vacancies had been posted and this could impact over 40 employees.

Senator Moore noted that a fuller statement would come following the meeting with the Labour Minister.

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