Workers unionised with the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), who were retrenched by the former Cable and Wireless (C&W) Company, which now operates under the Brand name FLOW, between the period of 2012 and 2015 can expect to receive their outstanding retroactive payments this January.
This was announced at a press conference hosted by TAWU President Andre Lewis, on December 21, who was extremely pleased with the decision of the Arbitration Tribunal, which was handed down on December 19, in favour of the workers.
The issue that went before the Tribunal related to the rate of salary increases to be paid to the employees and whether or not Cable &Wireless has a binding obligation to provide vehicle allowances for its employees.
In a ruling, which was delivered to both parties, the arbitrators ordered that the workers should be paid a lump sum amount of 3% for April 2012 – March 2013, a 3% increase in salaries for the period
April 2013 – March 2014 and a 3.5% increase on their salary for April 2014 to March 2015.
Lewis told reporters at the press conference held at TAWU House on Green Street that the “Union is looking forward to the workers receiving their due payment come January next year.”
He noted that all payments are “retroactive payments for a period already gone and therefore one would expect all payments to be made next month.”
He indicated that this is a significant win for “workers who were retrenched between 2012 and 2015 (who) would receive increases not just retroactive pay on their basic salary, for overtime, their retroactive contribution to their pension but also their severance package would have to be increased accordingly.”
As a matter of fact, he said “the company was bent on not giving any increase for the first two years 2012 -2013 and 2013-2014 (and) had proposed a one-off lump sum for the both periods.”
Additionally, the TAWU boss said “workers who have been sent home, because they are entitled, (they) will receive their pension…they would also receive an increase on their pensionable benefits.”
Lewis added that the ruling also bears significance for workers who have not been retrenched as “rather than having their salary increased for the period 2014-2015 only, (they) will have salary increases from 2012 -2015 and going forward”.
He pointed out that this means “if they (workers) are sent home without cause…once it is the company’s action that has caused them to go home their severance pay would significantly increase.”
Lewis described this “as a significant development” in light of the recent announcement of the removal of income tax on pension by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in delivering the 2017 Budget.
According to the TAWU President, Cable & Wireless has reduced its workforce from more than 300 workers in 2002, to approximately 21 workers at present.
“This company (C&W) feel that they can do what they want and get away with it…There is absolutely no doubt that Cable and Wireless have demonstrated over the past two years or so, total disregard and disrespect for the governments of the region”, he remarked.
He accused the company of being “reckless in its approach (in the treatment meted out to workers) and that workers right now are not permanent but are employed on yearly contracts.”
The negotiation process started back in 2014 but Lewis said it was “delayed as the company was bent on sending home (some of the) workers over that particular period.”
He recalled that “despite the many efforts made to zero-in on negotiations for a collective agreement the company gave priority to sending home workers.”
Lewis said “the company had never ever argued inability to pay but was just bent on squeezing ordinary Grenadians” and expects payments to be made in January.
The outstanding issues were heard on December 2 by a three-member Arbitration Tribunal that was chaired by Reverend Osbert James and included two attorneys-at-law as members – Ruggles Ferguson and Afi Ventour de Vega.