Government seeking legal opinion on G4S labour issue

Attorney General Dale Marshall will be providing a legal opinion for both Government and the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) before the next steps are determined in the labour issue surrounding G4S Secure Solutions Barbados.

That was the word from Prime Minister Mia Mottley early this morning during a media briefing from Ilaro Court on the state of the negotiations between G4S and the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU).

The union was also advised to put a pause on threatened industrial action pending the information contained in the legal opinion. General secretary Toni Moore, who is also a Member of Parliament in the current administration, formally wrote Minister of Labour Colin Jordan on Monday signalling the intention to take strike action, before Mottley intervened.

And the Prime Minister warned companies operating in Barbados they would not be allowed to flout the principles, conventions and statutes of the International Labour Organisation.

She urged management of G4S to take the time before talks resume to reflect on what it brought to the table.

“I do not know how you can admit that something is wrong and then ask for permission to continue or to break for 30 days and continue again with what is wrong. And if that is how business is done in other parts of the world, then I can say to you what I have said on too many occasions – ‘not bout hey’. That is not what we will allow as part and parcel of our industrial climate,” Mottley said.

Security officers at G4S are being paid $7.24 cents an hour while security guards earn $8.79. Both posts perform the same work, but G4S created the former category in 2014 without any consultation on the exciting collective bargaining agreement. Since that time, the company has not hired anyone under the title of security guard, no security officer was promoted to security guard and only the administrative staff received salary increases.

The parties did not make much headway in negotiations despite these admissions by the company and talks broke down.

The Prime Minister said Government would not be party to discrimination against any workers in Barbados.

She also told companies in the same way they enjoyed the profits and dividends in good times, they must be prepared to accept the fallout during times such as these and carry workers for as long as they can because there are no profits without labour. Companies also won’t be allowed to buy property and acquire assets while abandoning workers. Mottley reiterated the point that Government would help as far as it could through the National Insurance Scheme, but would go after those businesses that could afford to pay.

Security officers at G4S staged two protests outside the companies Brighton, St Michael headquarters in recent weeks. They are demanding a salary increase, but recently reduced it from 20 per cent to 12.5. 

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