Striking Caribbean Products workers to take grouse to IDT
Khurt Fletcher, island supervisor at the National Workers Union, has signalled his intention to escalate the grievances of workers employed by Caribbean Products Limited to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) over what he considers the company’s unilateral decision to implement a flexi-work week arrangement.
Yesterday, workers employed by the company, which is a member of the Seprod Group of Companies, took strike action in protest over the measure they say would impact their salaries.
“Currently, they work a 40-hour workweek, Monday to Friday. With the flexi-work week, there’s no designated of any weekend per se, and whilst the company had wanted to keep the premium days for Saturday and Sunday, I’m told the workers would have taken home, based on the schedule they would have provided us, less money than they would normally,” Fletcher told The Gleaner.
Fletcher said the union has been having discussions with the company for the past three months over the enactment of the flexi-work week, but no agreement had been arrived at.
“The Flexi-Work Act speaks to an agreement between workers and the management and, by extension, workers’ representative,” he stated.
Despite having a current contract that expires in December, he said the union decided to engage with the company as it is “not adverse” to the flexi-work environment.
But, after not coming to an agreement with the union up to last Monday, Fletcher said the company, the following day, took the offer to the staff who rejected it. Last Thursday, he said a memo was sent to the staff indicating that Caribbean Products Limited would be implementing the flexi-work arrangement.
“There is no agreement and, as such, any implementation would be unilateral and outside of the collective labour agreement and they would be in breach,” he asserted.
A meeting between representatives from the union, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and the Seprod Group took place yesterday, but the parties did not come to a resolution.
“While the ministry seems to agree with our position, they cannot impose it on the company. We were seeking a back-to-work formula that would have included the company rolling back on the implementation and allowing for us to return to the table to have some meaningful discussions to see if we can arrive at an agreement,” Fletcher told The Gleaner.
He said another meeting would be held today, and pledged that workers would remain off the job until a “reasonable resolution” is found.
“Since the company is resolved not to add anything on the workers’ pay, then it means that we reserve our right not to enter those discussions until December 31, which would be the expiration of the agreement that we now have in place,” he said.
Richard Pandohie, chief executive officer of the Seprod Group, told The Gleaner that it was his intention to speak on the matter today.