PORTVALE’S CROP SHUT DOWN BY B.W.U STRIKE ACTION

The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) this morning verbally advised management of The Barbados Agricultural Management Co. Ltd (BAMC) that the Union had called workers at Portvale Sugar Factory out on strike. To date the BAMC has received no written notification from the BWU of this strike and the reasons for this action.

{PERSONAL FILE IMAGE} News reports, however, have quoted the BWU General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman as "accusing the BAMC of terminating the Andrews Factory staff in the middle of negotiations for enhanced severance packages and other issues."

{PERSONAL FILE IMAGE} News reports, however, have quoted the BWU General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman as “accusing the BAMC of terminating the Andrews Factory staff in the middle of negotiations for enhanced severance packages and other issues.”

The BAMC would like to point out that the 57 workers were made redundant because of the cessation of operations at Andrews Factory at the end of the 2013 crop. Under our current legislation, negotiation with the Union is not required for redundancy. The BAMC has, however engaged in 10 months of consultation with the Barbados Workers’ Union on the matter.

The BWU has been advised that the BAMC is not in a position to offer enhanced packages but all of the affected employees will receive redundancy payments in accordance with legislation. In addition, employees have been offered extended access to an employee assistance programme.

The BWU has also demanded information on the opportunities for its members within the proposed multi-purpose factory. The BAMC has informed the BWU that such information will be provided in the future by Barbados Cane Industry Corporation (BCIC), the entity responsible for the design, construction and commissioning of the factory.

BAMC General Manager, Leslie Parris commenting on the strike action noted “While we respect the Union’s right to take industrial action as it considers appropriate, we are concerned that this action will put our sugar industry and our local economy at great risk.

“The crop is going very well and sugar cane farmers were delivering 2400 tonnes of sugar cane a day to the lone factory at Portvale. Shutting down the crop through strike action will therefore impact cash flow in the sugar farming industry to the tune of BDS$144, 000 a day.

Moreover, given the upcoming Easter break, we would only have received cane up to Wednesday afternoon next week. If we do not get back into operation at the factory by tomorrow, it could result in an extended break in production till after Easter and significant losses to sugar workers, the farming community and haulage contractors.” The BAMC GM observed.

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