Trade union representative in the Senate, Raymond Roberts has expressed serious concerns over the growing trend in the country by employers to resort to contracts in hiring workers.
Speaking at a sitting of the Upper House of Parliament last week Friday, Sen. Roberts raised the issue of contract work in light of the refusal by the Grenada Distillers Ltd to engage in talks with the bargaining agent of its work force, the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU).
He was critical of the proliferation of contract workers within Grenada and sees the development of posing a threat to the trade union movement.
TAWU President General, Andre Lewis told reporters last week that for two years now, the union has been unsuccessful in its attempts to meet and negotiate with the management of the distillery.
Lewis regarded the behaviour of the management as a tactical move to deunionise the workforce at Grenada Distillers.
Despite having signed a collective industrial agreement with TAWU, the union leader said that the distillery is “hell bent” on moving towards employing a full-fledged workforce of contract workers.
In expressing solidarity with the workers, Sen., Roberts lashed out at the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government as the “biggest culprit” with the proliferation of contract workers.
“In fact, the government seems to be the biggest culprit,” Sen. Roberts said, adding, “we understand the economic crisis (and) the challenges that we face under a Structural Adjustment Programme, but there has to be recognition that workers cannot continue 10, 20 years on contract and at the end of the day (the bosses) say thank you and good bye.
“I am calling upon workers, we ought not to allow it, whether you are involved in this industrial impasse between TAWU and this private sector company or not you must demand that the company treat with the issue,” the Labour Senator charged.
Sen. Roberts appealed to the “Government of Grenada through the Ministry of Labour, to ensure that the company, which is refusing to treat with the workers, cease immediately.”
He pointed out “the Labour Code accommodates both trade unions and the (Grenada) Employers Federation and for any employer in Grenada to refuse to treat with a legitimate organisation, it sends a bad message.”
The Labour Senator appealed to the Employer’s Federation, Grenada Chamber of Industry & Commerce (GCIC) and the wider business community to avoid industrial disputes from becoming a long-winded issue of workers and employers having to battle.
“Companies must not take us as just workers or slaves. We must be respected,” Sen. Roberts said.