talks break down
The claim of unfair dismissal by two former senior managers at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is headed for the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT).
According to leader of Unity Workers’ Union, Senator Caswell Franklyn, that will have to be the next step after the latest planned round of discussions never got off the ground yesterday at the Labour Department in Warrens. He said this was due to an alleged complaint made by one of the parties representing the BWA.
The union leader told The Barbados Advocate he is not pleased with the development, contending that the complaint “had nothing to do with the case at hand” and should not have impacted the meeting. Franklyn said that the meeting, which was scheduled for 10 a.m., convened at 10:50 a.m. and within minutes the complaint was lodged.
He made the point while noting that this most recent issue follows the BWA’s failure to respond to the proposal from the union at a meeting in April, to have the former financial controller Lorna Mascoll and ex-manager of the Waste Water Division Patricia Inniss reinstated, and monies owed to them paid. But, Franklyn said the April 23 deadline for the response has long passed and to date there has still been no reply.
“As far as I am concerned that is the end of the matter and I have asked the Labour Department to refer the matter to the Tribunal, because if the other side refuses to meet, something has to give. I just want the matter now to go on to the next step,” he contended.
Senator Franklyn is optimistic that the matter will be heard by the Tribunal soon, noting that with that body now up and running, he anticipates that cases will be handled “much more swiftly than they were in the past”.
Meanwhile, attorney for Inniss, Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop, described the reason for leaving the meeting as “preposterous”, and expressed his and his client’s disappointment that the BWA has not yet responded to the proposal put forward by Franklyn, which they were hoping the meeting would have allowed the state utility to do. Gollop, a former chairman of the ERT, made the comments as he maintained that the rationale for the breakdown in negotiations cannot be good for the industrial relations process.
Mascoll and Inniss, who were made redundant some months ago and are keen to see the matter concluded, with the view of getting their jobs back, have expressed shock at the turn of events.
“I am just so stunned; I am not even angry,” said Inniss. “I am so dumbfounded right now. It is not only about the unfair dismissal, but monies they owe me outside of our claim; they owe me backpay; cannot be settled.”
A disappointed Mascoll, who worked at the BWA for 19 years, told this newspaper the months-long issue has to be resolved and she and Inniss must be paid their outstanding money. The abrupt way the meeting ended has left a sour taste in Mascoll’s mouth. She said she feels disrespected.
“I don’t think we need to be going back and forth wasting the time of lawyers, union representatives, myself and Patricia,” she insisted.
When contacted yesterday General Manager of the BWA Keithroy Halliday said the Authority “would not be able to respond at this time”, explaining that the BWA does not discuss employee matters in the media. He added however that he would look into the matter and a determination would be made as to whether a statement would be