LETTER OF THE DAY - Not about 'wining and dining'
The Editor, Sir:
Your report about 'LIME fetes regional unions to strengthen links', carried in Wednesday's Gleaner, grossly misrepresents the purpose and outcome of the meeting between the management of LIME and several trade union leaders, held in Antigua January 13-15 last.
For the record, trade unions from countries where Cable and Wireless (LIME) operate in the region have been concerned about the 'One Caribbean' policy of the company. The regional trade unions felt that while each union should continue to fight for the interest of the workers in each country a regional approach to the company would be very helpful.
Last September, several trade unions from the region met in Barbados to develop a strategy to protect the best interest of our members. The unions paid the cost of that meeting. It should be noted that unions in Barbados, Jamaica and other countries were threatening industrial action against LIME at that time. Industrial relations within the company was, at best, unstable.
It is against this background that multilateral discussions took place between different unions and the management of LIME, towards developing a new approach to industrial relations. It is out of those talks that the agreement was reached for the meeting in Antigua.
The cost of the three days of meetings was borne not only by the company but also by the trade unions. There was no fête. Nor were the unions 'wining and dining' on the LIME tab. The meeting was not without frank and open criticisms of the company by the unions. There were disagreements and tense moments consistent with many management-union meetings. What was important is that the unions and management were able to arrive at a consensus on a better way forward for the company and its employees.
There will be greater consultations on issues as the company positions itself towards developing a winning culture. Customers, workers and countries of the region will benefit from this approach.
Members' best interest
Unions presented in Antigua were clear that an approach emphasising partnership is the best way to protect and advance our members' best interest. Already, our members are seeing the fruits of this approach.
Unions here in Jamaica, like the rest of the Caribbean, are committed to partnership building. We have seen it in the bauxite, the public sector and even the banking sectors. Sensational newspaper reports about 'fêtes' and 'wining and dining' promote backwardness among the workers and encourages adversarial and hostile workplace relations at a time when enlightened leadership is needed. When unions take a progressive approach to industrial relations, rather than commending the approach, it is unfortunate that speculation and allusions to less than noble intent seems to be the result. Jamaica and the Caribbean will be the winner if facts replace speculation and sensationalism in the media.
I am, etc.,
University and Allied Workers Union