As companies switch to survival mode during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) is calling on the Ministry of Labour to urgently address a disturbing increase in companies unilaterally slashing the salaries of workers.
The alarm was raised on Sunday by deputy general secretary and director of industrial relations, Dwaine Paul, who charged that some employers within the private sector were twisting the arms of their staff to take, in some cases, as much as 50 per cent cuts in salary.
“These employers are doing it as if there is no law and these workers have absolutely no rights. This is not only in unionised environments but also in environments that are not unionised. Let me be clear, the cutting of workers’ wages is not legal unless you can get a firm agreement from workers that they are going to participate in such an activity. Such an agreement cannot be one that is forced or in a scenario where the worker is intimidated. It simply is not binding unless it is totally voluntary,” said Paul.
He argued that based on the information coming to the union, it was now essentially open season on wages, as companies had opted to go after the low-hanging fruit before attempting to exhaust other measures.