Robert Haris, Contributor
I read with disbelief and dismay a letter in The Gleaner of Saturday, June 30, 2012 captioned 'Get the facts right on Jambisco IDT ruling'. It is obvious that the writer does not have a clue about the significance of the IDT award or is making a deliberate attempt to mislead the public and the workers. Let us make it abundantly clear that the award is a public document. Anyone who wants to be properly informed on the contents of the document can go to the IDT and purchase a copy.
What is the IDT award? The tribunal awards that Jambisco complete the implementation of the external job evaluation with effect from April 1, 2011. What does this mean? The tribunal knows that there are certain steps to be taken between the parties to implement the award. The steps are no different from those taken in other similar circumstances.
What is clear is that the award cannot be implemented in the media. However, we stand by our statement that the award was in favour of the workers, although they did not get all they wanted. The Jambisco management's first attempt to distort the facts of the award was in a staff meeting held at the company's Spanish Town Road complex.
The management made attempts to paint a bad impression of the union office and the delegates.
The writer listed three items purported to be the tribunal's award. On the contrary, those are some of the conclusions or findings of the tribunal from which it made its final decision. That the management would quote those as the award confirms my previous statement that the writer does not understand what the award is.
The fact is at no time in the past several years did the company put forward any reasonable proposal to settle the matter. On the contrary, the workers were always willing to give up 50 per cent of their outstanding payments, as long as the company implemented the external evaluation/market survey. The workers, through their union representative, even offered to forego increases claimed for if the company were to implement the outcome of the study. The company rejected the offer.
COMPANY'S TONE CHANGED
In fact, during the negotiations for the period 2009-2011 contract cycle, the then general manager, Mr Alwyn Clarke, indicated that the company was not in a position to implement the award as it was in the process of retooling and would like to delay the implementation further.
However, before we could complete the negotiations, Mr Clarke was replaced, and the company's tone changed. It was now: "There was no agreement to implement."
Mr Clarke, while giving evidence at the tribunal in answer to a question posed by attorney for the union, Donald Gittens, was interrupted by the attorney for the company who stated that the company always intended to implement the evaluation, when it was affordable to do so.
There was no reference by the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees that the award handed down spoke to any retroactive payments to the workers going back to 2006. What is clear is that the company has been relieved of the major part of its liability consequent to the last report produced by the consultants. This does not negate the fact that it has an outstanding obligation to the workers, unionised and non-unionised, effective April 1, 2011. That was affirmed by the tribunal's award.
The union wishes to state categorically that it has been very open and cooperative with the management in its dealings on this matter in the different forums. The company's final offer to settle the matter was regarded by the union as an insult to both the union and hard-working employees.
We indicated that we would write to the Tribunal indicating that we had failed in our attempt to broker a settlement and that it should settle the matter.
However, the company's recent pronouncements since the award was handed down have been less than respectful or honest. It has embarked on a campaign to discredit the union.
The union hopes to begin discussions with the company in the coming days on the implementation of the IDT award.
Robert Haris is senior negotiating officer at UCASE. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.