There is no end in sight for a near one-week standoff involving dozens of Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) workers, who are incensed over what they consider an extremely disrespectful attempt at restructuring.
A three-day sickout has evolved into full-blown industrial action as approximately 95 per cent of unionised staff abandoned their posts to publicly air their frustration.
Demonstrating workers sat on folding chairs and enjoyed snacks and drinks under large umbrellas, in what at times resembled a picnic.
‘Leave our jobs alone’, ‘We will do no mo’ and ‘management has to go’ were just a few of the colourful phrases written on placards as workers gave the examination body’s hierarchy a ‘failing grade’ for their treatment of workers.
Major restructuring changes have reportedly started unfolding without notice and in the middle of negotiations with trade unions.
Some workers were last week informed they would be made redundant at the end of June, while at least two others saw their positions advertised among numerous vacancies published on the CXC’s website over the weekend.
“The staff of the Caribbean Examinations Council has advised the Barbados Workers’ Union [BWU] that they are off the job,” reported the BWU’s Deputy Director of Industrial Relations Dionne Howard around 10 o’clock Thursday morning.
“We’ve met with the workers, we have heard their concerns at this point. We have reached out to the company. We have shared the concerns and are awaiting word from them as to how soon we can have a discussion regarding the concerns.”
Workers remained outside pending those discussions. However after an hour of talks, Executive Assistant to the BWU’s General Secretary, Sindy Green revealed their attempts to resolve the situation had proven futile.
“Conditions that would form the basis for further discussions were presented and management indicated that they could not accede to the conditions presented, so for now, we continue to demonstrate on the outside.”
In a statement, the BWU revealed restructuring discussions were to be continued on June 3, but CXC’s management unilaterally determined the outcome when they posted advertisements for positions, which were on the table for discussion.
“This action by the management was the final straw for the staff at the CXC who have been experiencing a number of challenges with the management. The Executive Council has found the management of the CXC to be insulting and disrespectful, not only to the secretariat but to the Staff of the Council.
“It is unconscionable to post jobs currently held by persons on the market and those persons having no idea that their jobs are under threat. This, in no way, takes the shape of typical industrial relations practices and the Executive Council of The Barbados Workers’ Union understands the pressure and frustration of the workers and endorses the action taking place today,” the statement said, while revealing that the BWU remained open to returning to the negotiating table.
CXC officials, who are still on the job told Barbados TODAY that registrar, Glenroy Cumberbatch is out of the island on business.
However in a statement, the Registrar’s public relations office countered the workers’ claims stressing the CXC’s commitment to maintaining “the highest standards of fair business practices”. The CXC has now referred the issues to the Chief Labor Officer.
“The organisation further contends that management participated in consultations in an effort to maintain open communications on issues raised by the BWU and CXC, maintained good industrial relations practices and adhered to organisational rules,” the statement said.