Veteran trade unionist, Senator Chester Humphrey has identified the state-owned National Water and Sewage Authority (NAWASA) and Cable and Wireless as the two local entities that are heavily engaged in Union Busting tactics during negotiations.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in St. George’s, the former President-General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) described the action as “a despicable practice” that was being employed to prevent workers from receiving proper representation from their Unions.
He warned those engage in the practice that the union will not sit idle by and be sidetracked by those companies that engage in such behaviour.
“While the Technical and Allied Workers Union is situated not too far from a funeral home (Otway Bailey), it seldom mingles with the dead and dying. It is a very vibrant organisation and it is even more vibrant now that a new leadership has succeeded me,” he said.
Humphrey, the President of the Upper House in Parliament, has been succeeded as union boss by Andre Lewis, the man who served as his No.2 Lieutenant for a number of years.
He said the union busting tactics employed by NAWASA were seen when the Management took the decision to put a large section of the work force on contracts and not permanent employees.
“So having had these workers employed for several years, they now want to impose different conditions, different benefits (for) these workers in violation of the collective agreement”, he said.
“…These workers are entitled to be pensionable; they want to now make them non-pensionable. These workers are entitled to different increases and bonuses, they don’t want the workers to get those bonuses which they are due and we have said, this is not going to happen,” he added.
According to Sen. Humphrey, the union has got the state-owned statutory to move away from the course that it was pursuing with the workers.
“We have gotten NAWASA to see the evil of the ways and they have agreed that the workers should be made permanent and that they have no option. They must make the workers permanent but what they wish to do is what I would consider a sell-out of the workers which we would not ever, ever, ever engage in,” he told reporters.
The veteran trade unionist also chided government for resorting to Union Busting tactics in relation to those nurses and teachers who are not being made permanent on the payroll.
This practice, Humphrey said is being done in total violation of the law.
“…The law is very, very clear on this. We have been addressing the issue in respect of the nurses – I think a number of them are made permanent. In respect of the teachers a number of them are made permanent,” he remarked.
The bargaining body for teachers, the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) has been making frequent calls for government to make a number of teachers in the service permanent employees.
The union has been claiming that the lack of permanent status is preventing teachers from qualifying for loans from local commercial banks.
Sen. Humphrey pointed an accusing finger at some politicians for turning to union busting as a strategy at the bargaining table.
“…It is not a … single political party or any single government, this has been happening for quite a while”, he said.
Humphrey who was regarded for nearly 25 years as a thorn in the side of the New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, has now pledged loyalty to the regime under the so-called “Project Grenada” banner.
The initiative is being promoted by Humphrey and a colleague from the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution era, attorney-at-law, Peter David who were both expelled as members of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) following infighting for leadership in 2013.
David who won the Town of St. George constituency in the 2003 and 2008 general elections is now seeking to contest the seat for NNP in the upcoming poll.
His followers are said to be trying to entice the sitting Member of Parliament, Health Minister, Nicholas Steele to step aside and make way for David’s candidacy.