Union: Government breaking law
May 19, 2006
Union: Government breaking law

General Secretary of the Commercial Technical and Allied Workers Union (CTAWU), Lloyd Small is making no apologies over union claims that the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in breach of certain sections of the Protection of Employment Act.

The union is at odds with the government because of a dispute with the management of the state-owned marketing corporation.{{more}}

Some 34 workers were sent packing from the marketing board as part of restructuring measures being carried out at the corporation.

But Small is furious over the actions of the corporation’s management stating that they were unwilling to have proper negotiations with the CTAWU.

“There was no system in place to evaluate the workers as to who would be made redundant; there was no assessment by the National Properties Ltd. Based on the decision of a manager who has been in place for only six months, … they came into the meeting and told us they are not going to change the position they put forward to us. how could you negotiate like that?” Small lashed out.

He explained to Searchlight that the Corporation’s decision not to give the union one month’s notice about the names put forward for redundancy was a breach of the Protection of Employment Act.

“They are breaking the law. How am I supposed to negotiate the rights of workers with private institutions when the same government who puts these laws into place is breaking them? They went about the matter in a manner that is not in accordance with existing labour laws,” Small expressed.

Commenting on a statement by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at a Press Conference held on Tuesday, Small said that the Prime Minister, who was out of state during the discussions, is being misled. “We did not break down communication with the National Properties on the issue, if that’s what they told the Prime Minister. they clearly stated to us they were not going to change their position on the list that they compiled…in that case I didn’t see the need to continue the meeting if they are not willing to negotiate properly,” Small acknowledged.

Responing to statements by Dr. Gonsalves who accused workers of pilfering the stock at the marketing corporation, Small hinted at cases of poor management, citing that there were also cases of pilfering at management level.

“There were claims of one manager sending the property of the marketing corporation to Trinidad and Tobago, why don’t they investigate that issue?” Small questioned.