The Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) is planning to intensify the limited industrial action taken at the state-run Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority (GSWMA).
The workers are now into the second week of industrial action at the authority and are currently wearing Red Union T Shirts on the job as a form of protest against unresolved Past Service Benefits and Pension.
Speaking to reporters in St. George’s, the union’s President General, Andre Lewis said the action is being taken with the hope of getting the authorities to resolve the issue.
“The outstanding matters as we indicated have to do with past service/pension and other industrial relationship issues at the workplace. It is our intention, we are hoping that (through) this medium that we use here it would be able to be used as a catalyst to get the matter to be speedily resolved because that is what our intention is basically about – to have those matters resolved,” he said.
Lewis warned of increased industrial action if matter is not resolved speedily.
“As we speak right now, if by some miracle, there is some resolution to the matter, the actions will be off.
If there is no resolution to the issue obviously, we’ll have to look at the next step and the next step will not be I want to reassure you (it) will not be the wearing of red ribbons because we are adorned in Union Red T Shirts…”, he said.
According to Lewis, the impasse between TAWU and GSWMA goes back a few years but the issue of Past Service Benefits/Pensions which is now a bone of contention came to the fore just over a year ago.
This, he said is so as the union is “extremely concerned about the pension environment” in the wake of the collapse of British American Insurance Company (BICO) and Colonial Life Insurance company (CLICO) in which workers in the region faced severe financial losses.
Lewis is confident that “a serious approach” by the management of the authority could result in a quick resolution of the matter.
“…What we want is an urgent approach, is an urgent response, an urgent meeting to address these matters…”, he said.
He said if a sense of urgency is applied then the matter could be resolved amicably.
“As you would know, pension discussion is a big thing in the air right now. Therefore, this action is designed primarily to meet urgently to resolve the issues and we are prepared to meet in a very amicable way because that is what it is about. We are prepared to meet in a very amicable manner to address the issue but we need to do so and do so urgently.
“…So, we call upon the authorities, we call upon the powers-that-be, given the importance of solid waste, given the fact that we are in July, just shy of Carnival, we need to bear that in mind and we need to do all that is within our powers to ensure that we can amicably resolve this matter.
Referring to the move as only a “low-level industrial action” so far on the part of the union, Lewis warned that no one should test their resolve to intensify the matter.
“…It will be an error on the part of anyone…anyone of the management of the authority, the powers-that-be who want to interpret this action as an aggressive action, they have not seen anything yet. They must just see this as a signal, just as a message because the workers are working albeit in a union t-shirt but this is just a wake-up call”, he said.
“This is just to say let us take this thing seriously and let us aggressively meet to address the matter,” he added.
TAWU was once regarded as the largest and most powerful trade union on the island.