The Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) has signaled its intention to escalate the industrial action taken to resolve the issue of the regularisation of contract workers at the state-owned National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA).
The union started the action in December when it advised its members at the water utility to down tools as both government and management made little attempt to settle the matter.
TAWU’s President-General Andre Lewis told reporters at a press conference at the union’s headquarters on Green Street, St. George last Thursday that it will increase the industrial action started in order to bring a closure to the impasse.
He said the union has already gotten “heavy solidarity” in the dispute from approximately 10 different work places that TAWU represents like the Grenada Electricity Services (Grenlec) and Grenada Ports Authority (GPA).
According to Lewis, the union met with shop stewards from different workplaces and got assurances about solidarity support in the NAWASA issue in case of a possible escalation of strike action.
“…We met with our members at the Grenada Electricity Services at the Transmission and Distribution services because our intention is that this matter will not be left hanging for much longer and therefore (we) will be faced with no other alternative but to up the form of struggle that we have been involved in”, he said.
“…There has been unanimous support form the workers at Grenlec to give solidarity in whatever from that is needed in solidarity with the union and its members at NAWASA”, he added.
The President-General warned that TAWU is putting the nation on alert that the union will do whatever is necessary to get the authorities to resolve the issue.
“Based on the solidarity pledged by our members … and based on the failure of NAWASA’s Management and the Board of Directors to resolve this matter and resolve it only along one line, the issue of the permanency of our members of our contract workers…we will increase the level of industrial action and therefore these work places that we represent shall be impacted”, he remarked.
According to Lewis, the labour representative in the Senate, the ball is now in the court of government and the Board of Directors of NAWASA to prevent an escalation of strike action.
“We are open for discussion but we are not changing the course that we have decided upon…the only thing that can prevent an escalation of this matter and in the key workplace and despite the fact that TAWU has over seventy something work places that we represent, we do not need to mobilise all of our members – our members are on board but we do not need to call all our members to down tools,” he said.
“This is not something that we want to do but this is something that we have to do and we shall do it to the best of our ability. Our intention is not to shut down the services that our members provide, our intention is to have this matter resolved and wherever there is any sign of a genuine attempt to resolve the matter that will be given first preference”, he added.
Over the weekend, Public Utilities Minister Gregory Bowen put forward a proposal to resolve the issue by offering to make permanent all those NAWASA workers who have been working with the company on contract for over two years and to review the others at another time.