February 10, 2006

Management of FirstCaribbean gets ultimatum from Minister

Management of FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited will have until February 13, 2006, next Monday, to respond to this country’s Labour Minister, Rene Baptiste with regard to an impasse with its employees.

Minister Baptiste has given the bank’s officials Monday’s deadline to reverse its proposed redundancy payout to the banking staff, and to address other unresolved issues surfacing with the financial institution and their staff’s representative, the Commercial Technical and Allied Workers Union (CTAWU).{{more}}

According to the Labour Minister, she has suggested to both parties a compromise of agreeing on three weeks pay for every year of service for employees working two to 10 years, compared to the bank’s offer of 2 to 15 years and the Union’s bid for 2 to seven.

She said the union had agreed to accept the offer but she is awaiting the bank’s response on the matter.

“I like for things to be dealt with in a quick fashion. We are waiting on them to respond by Monday. We can’t allow things to drag on as I have to be mindful of the rights of both the workers and their employers and more importantly the interest of the nation,” Baptiste said.

Miffed by allegedly poor working conditions at the institution, and a cap Management is seeking to place on redundancy packages, the employees staged a one-day sick out last Tuesday. But, though their action seemed to have got the attention of the bank’s executives, Lloyd Small, the CTAWU representative is fuming over the bank’s decision not to pay the workers who called in sick.

Small said that under the collective agreement workers can report sick up to three days; however, the bank stated that they would not pay for Tuesday’s sick out because there was an industrial action.

“They reported sick, and they are entitled to their day’s work. They can’t just change the dynamics of the market, there are certain things they have to abide by,” Small stated.

Meanwhile, two other ongoing disputes involving Security personnel and their former employers at the Ministry of Transport and Works, and the rift between the CTAWU and National Workers Movement over the right to represent workers at the port authority remain at a stalemate pending the outcome at meetings to follow.