OFFICE OF THE PRINCIPAL
The Management of the Barbados Community College (BCC) wishes to make the public aware of the facts concerning the apparent dispute with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW).
BCC was requested by the Ministry of the Civil Service to reduce the number of posts at the College by seventy five (75).
BCC wrote to the NUPW and the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) to inform them of the request from the Ministry of the Civil Service and that BCC wished to meet with them to discuss cost reduction measures after we had done careful analysis and held discussions internally. It should be noted that the Barbados Workers’ Union is the official bargaining body for workers at the Barbados Community College. The BCC convened a meeting with the NUPW on 3 April 2014 and with the BWU on 4 April 2014 and stated that the College would re-convene meetings with the unions to have discussions on the cost reduction measures including any possible lay-offs. However the BCC emphasised that it would not lay off staff without first having consultation with the two major unions that represented staff at the College.
BCC explained to the Union that once the College can implement cost saving measures and revenue generating strategies that would in effect minimise the number of persons who would have to be retrenched. At the meetings with the unions BCC explained some of the measures that would be instituted to reduce cost including the enforcement of the stipulated contact hours for tutorial staff. Both unions agreed that it was necessary for the full time staff to make adjustments in order to minimise the effect of job loss. BWU pledged to work with BCC in implementing revenue generating programmes.
More specifically the College proposed to:
Reduce cost primarily by enforcing the College’s policy as outlined in the Employee handbook, which outlined the stipulated hours that full time staff are required to work, that is, 18 contact teaching hours. This in effect will reduce the number of hours that are allocated to part time staff.
Raise revenue by introducing new and attractive programmes and services to the general public and specific target groups.
Enforce the government’s policy of attrition by not filling post vacated by retirement, resignation, etc. wherever possible.
On Friday 3 October 2014, Mr. Dennis Clarke, General Secretary, NUPW, called the Principal to demand a meeting on Monday 6 October 2014. The Principal indicated that it was not possible to hold a meeting on that date due to prior engagements. Mr. Clarke stated that his meeting was the most important meeting and that other meetings should be cancelled so that he could meet with NUPW or else he would close the College down. On the same day Wayne Walrond of the NUPW was heard on Starcom Network News stating that BCC had terminated employees.
On 6 October 2014, BCC issued a press release rebutting the false statements made by NUPW. There is a case where a staff member reverted to her substantive post thus resulting in displacement of the temporary employee who was acting in the post. NUPW has chosen to refer to this situation as BCC terminating staff. At a meeting with the NUPW on Wednesday 15 October 2014, the College reviewed the situation as requested by the NUPW and offered an alternative position at the College to the employee. This matter is still under discussion with the union.
On Wednesday 8 October 2014, Mr. Clarke called the Deputy Principal requesting to have a meeting with staff on Thursday 9 October in the Liberal Arts Auditorium. The Deputy Principal informed Mr. Clarke that permission was not granted for the meeting or the use of the facility at that time. However, on Thursday 9 October 2014, Mr. Clarke proceeded to defy the Management of the College and proceeded to hold a meeting at the College without permission and was very aggressive when questioned by the Principal and Deputy Principal.
On Tuesday 28 October 2014 BCC received a letter from the NUPW requesting permission to meet with staff in the Auditorium on Wednesday 29 October 2014 at 9:30 a.m. Since the College was closed on Monday 27 October 2014 due to bad weather being experienced in Barbados, the College informed the NUPW that it was in the best interest of the students not to disrupt the College for a 9:30 a.m. meeting but gave the NUPW permission to hold the meeting at 3:30 p.m. on the same day. This was communicated to the NUPW by the Principal. Mr. Clarke’s statement that they were locked out of the Auditorium is therefore false.
Part time Lectures/Instructors are employed on a per course/per semester basis and are not full time as the majority of this category of worker holds full time employment at other business and government institutions or are retired persons, and has never been recognised by BCC as being represented by any union. NUPW is now claiming representation of part time staff at BCC but has not provided BCC with any certification to validate its claim.
With effect from the September 2014 semester, BCC has taken the decision that it would no longer be deducting NIS and PAYE from the payments of part time staff and they would be required to make their own statutory payments. Part time staffs were informed of this and it was included in their contracts for this semester.
BCC has always maintained a harmonious working relationship with the Unions and their bargaining agent. BCC has written to the NUPW requesting a meeting to discuss a number of outstanding matters including cost cutting measures as per the request from the Ministry of the Civil Service. To date BCC has not received a response from the NUPW and await its response to meet with the Management of BCC to resolve these matters within the established framework set out for collective bargaining in this country.
Gladstone A. Best
30 October 2014