NWM, Port Workers call off Industrial Action
March 24, 2006

NWM, Port Workers call off Industrial Action

The threat of industrial action at the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority – the country’s only viable seaport of entry – by the National Workers Movement (NWM) has ended.

Noel Jackson, General Secretary of the NWM made the disclosure at a press conference at the union’s headquarters on Monday, March 20, following an agreement that was reached with the government’s negotiators on Friday, March 17. {{more}}

“What transpired on Friday have brought the attempted or threatened industrial action at the Port Authority to an end,” Jackson told journalists.

He said his union had difficulties with the Port Authority principally relating to the termination of seven workers under a restructuring exercise. The workers dismissed were Alban Foster, Philmore Williams, George Byron, Laverne Quammie, Leslie Samuel, Walwyn Nichols and Nicole Nelson.

Jackson explained at the time the issue arose, the NWM had made it very clear that it was not satisfied with the “unethical” way the Port Authority was conducting the exercise.

He recalled that after little progress was made in having the workers reinstated, the union met on Friday, March 10 and decided to take industrial action by Monday March 13,

“After little progress was made we met on Friday 10 of March and decided to take industrial action on Monday 13 of March if we are not satisfied sufficient answers were given to our proposals,” said Jackson.

He noted that on Saturday, March 11, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who is Minister of National Security under whose portfolio the Port Authority falls, contacted the union and suggested that it postpone its activities until he could meet with them after the funeral of his Press Secretary, the late Glenn Jackson.

Noel Jackson said the union considered the request to be reasonable and agreed to a meeting with the Prime Minister and a delegation comprising other government officials, including the Minister of Labour, members of the Board, the Industrial Relations Advisor to Statutory Corporations and the General Manager of the Port Authority.

At that meeting it was agreed that two of the workers would be reinstated. For those dismissed workers who did not make private arrangements with the Prime Minister, the union will collect private information from them as to what they would like to do for alternative employment and communicate the information to the Ministry of National Security. Thirdly, a joint consultative mechanism will be established between the members of the Board of Directors and the union to deal with all matters affecting the welfare of the port and its workers.

“The union is satisfied that its efforts have sent a clear signal that we will not accept a lack of transparency as far as the interest and values of the workers are concerned.

“We believe that the approach used by the management of the Port Authority and the Board of Directors will not be used again in the future. And should this approach be used again it will be meet with similar and firmer response by the union,” Jackson warned.