President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall is “totally upset” with the management of Arawak Cement Company Limited over its handling of staff cuts.
Earlier this week, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Trinidad Cement Ltd Wilfred Espinet said talks with the NUPW had been concluded, while the cement company expected to complete negotiations with the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) soon.
However, McDowall has said there was no truth to Espinet’s assertion, and he blasted the cement company, calling it disrespectful.
“I am totally upset with the way the management dealt with this matter of redundancies and to my mind they have disrespected the NUPW by not completing the negotiations and taking decisions without doing so. We are definitely not satisfied. The union is still looking to get back to the bargaining table to have those negotiations completed,” the union boss protested, adding that a meeting had been scheduled for this afternoon between the NUPW and the company’s operations manager to discuss “outstanding matters”.
McDowall made reference to the yet unresolved dispute with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation over the forced retirement of employees of the state organization, saying he had anticipated that “some of the companies would have learnt a lesson as to what course of action to take when they are negotiating with the union”. However, he said this was not the case with Arawak Cement.
McDowall added that the union had a duty to look out for its members, but said there was a risk that the union would be seen as a troublemaker as a result of its response to the company’s behaviour.
“That is the first thing that people say in relation to the unions, but if those kinds of practices continue, they leave us no choice but to do what we have to do to represent our members,” he stressed.
“Ten workers from the NUPW were retrenched. We have to find out what they were given. We would not stop until all of our members are comfortable. Some of our members who were given letters may have to return to Arawak to work again, while some of them may have to be given an enhanced package.”