Players of all games run by the state-run National Lotteries Authority (NLA) could be affected by industrial action taken by employees on the heels of the annual Spicemas festival.
The Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) is threatening heightened action if the NLA management does not come to the bargaining table in short order to discuss salary negotiations for workers.
They were off the job for half of the day on Tuesday to send a message to the Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government.
Low Level Industrial Action commenced three weeks ago at NLA through the wearing of red union T-Shirts by workers on orders from TAWU.
During a press conference held Tuesday, TAWU’s President-General Andre Lewis said the intensified industrial action has resulted due to the authority’s dragging of its feet on negotiations for salary increases for workers.
Lewis told reporters that NLA has failed since 2016 to resolve some outstanding issues for the employees which is inclusive of salary Increases.
He referred to a letter dated July 27th, 2017 which was addressed to the General Manager of the authority, Jeffrey Gilbert putting the authority on notice about what is expected of them.
According to Lewis, the issue of salary increases should have been negotiated by May 31st, 2016 and up to this date, it has not even started.
This, he said was included in a letter of understanding which was signed on April 25, 2016.
“This is not breaking news. As a matter of fact, this is long outdated and outstanding news. We are fed up, we are totally fed up…”, remarked Lewis.
THE NEW TODAY understands that NLA is required to submit proposal for salary increases for 2016 to the Union, as well as a list of workers who are eligible for salary adjustments together with criteria and comparators used.
The TAWU boss stressed that the union has exercised a lot of patience with the authority and decided that something should be done in the circumstances.
“As recent as August 3rd, the authority is indicating that they have not yet submitted this matter to their principal. Think about it, this matter should have been resolved, negotiated since May 31st, 2016”, he said.
“As of August 3rd, 2017, one year and about three months after, the authority’s management is saying that they have not yet submitted these matters to their principals for guidance…”, he added.
Lewis told reporters that TAWU believes that it is being taken for a ride by the lotteries.
He felt that NLA is not serious in light of the recent signals given as the workers had started to engage in low level Industrial Action.
“…As far as we are concerned, today Tuesday August 8th 2017, marks the start of the new level of industrial action,” he said.
“We have this emergency meeting with the workers, this is a protest meeting. The workers are all gathered here at TAWU, will report back to work at midday but this is just to send a signal and without any further notice, unless these matters are seriously dealt with, the next round of action would not be a half day meeting with the Union. We are in the Carnival season and we will not allow this opportunity to pass,” he added.
The TAWU boss called on those running the state body to treat the workers with respect.
“…Whoever you put to manage must be efficient and must represent the interest in a fair manner. The workers must be treated with respect…and we are sounding this advice that where we are today nothing would happen that is less than what happened today.
“The Union and the workers will not continue to accept this total disrespect and disregard from, I don’t want to say an inept bunch of management…but it is apparent…”.
“…I can’t understand how over one year and three months you can’t get your act together, even to the point of responding. This is not a case where they have responded to us or we are dissatisfied with the response, this is a case where they have shown total disregard. This is a case where they have indicated that they are not in a position to make a proposal, to give a response…they have not even submitted to their principals.
Lewis also pointed an accusing finger at the Mitchell-led government, saying that it should take some of the blame for what is currently happening at the authority with respect to the dragging of feet on the issue.
“I can’t understand how the government could be sitting there, I can’t understand how the line minister (Senator Brenda Hood) could be sitting there being aware that you have industrial action hanging over your head where industrial action has started, low level … but with the commitment that they will be an escalation of the industrial action and no line minister has intervened.
“We see this as Management and the ministry and the government all in the same boat. We are not making any separation. The authority, government, the minister – they are all aware of those outstanding issues.
The TAWU boss warned the general public as to what could happen in this carnival season with the games that are run daily by NLA.
He said, “Those who would want to win their Scratch and their other lotto games, we want you to continue to win because you have got to be in it to win it but for you to be in, our workers and our members have to be in it.
“We are happy with people winning hundreds of thousands of dollars, we are happy with people winning thousands of dollars every week but our workers and our members must be treated fairly.
‘Not only must lotto be a milking cow where all ministries and others dipping their hand and where all assistance is given to people. We are happy about that but you need to take care of the people who ensure that lotto performs. If they did not want to use the timing of Carnival, they ought to have solved this matter before.”
THE NEW TODAY understands that the workers are accusing the Board of Directors of meeting regularly and going home with hundreds of dollars in stipends while their salary increase issue is apparently put on the back burner.