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Trade Union and Security Firm Locked in Recognition Battle

A new development has emerged that could throw a monkey wrench in efforts by the National Workers Union to deal with the outstanding matter of overtime compensation to employees of the security firm Secure St Lucia Ltd.

A press release from the company yesterday noted that a number of its employees have signalled their intention to part ways with the NWU and have initiated a process to do just that.

This development comes after Acting Labour Commissioner Cornelia Jn. Baptiste gave the company, via letter, up until the end of last month to provide information necessary to clear up all outstanding matters with employees.

Prior to that letter, at a conciliatory meeting Jn Baptiste had with the company’s management and the NWU, several points were agreed on, giving the appearance that things were moving progressively.

Jn. Baptiste’s letter to the company’s Managing Director, Gabriel Pierre explained in detail not only the extent of the outstanding matters between the two bodies, but what the company needed to do to smooth things over.

According to the Labour Commissioner, the Department of Labour is of the view that a breakdown in communication between the parties exists and needs to be rectified for the settlement of the outstanding matters. Jn Baptiste outlined two proposals to Pierre that would help in smoothing things over and ensure that all parties, including the Department of Labour, were kept abreast of the progress as it related to payments to the workers.

Proposal one calls for a record of payments to be completed by the company for submission to the Department and the Union each month to serve as a monitoring system on the progress of payments to the employees.

The second proposal calls on the employer to provide the updated master list to the Union and the Department containing the names of all workers to be paid, the amounts to be paid and payments made to date.

The company it seems has since adhered to the proposals however another issue looms that threatens to create even more tension between employees and management.

The National Workers Union on, Friday May 3rd, 2019 said it brought to the attention of the Labour Commissioner (acting) a de-unionization initiative being undertaken by the Management of Secure St. Lucia Ltd.

“The NWU is of the opinion that this step by the company is as a result of a recent conciliatory meeting between the National Workers Union and Secure St Lucia Ltd which was chaired by Labour Commissioner (Ag.) Miss Cornelia Jn. Baptiste,” said Tyrone Maynard, President General of the NWU.

Tyrone said that workers are now being threatened to forgo the overtime payments due to them in order for their jobs to be secured and that the company hosted a breakfast for workers during which they were asked to sign the documents.

“The National Workers Union feels that a padded list will be submitted by the company to the Department of Labour,” Maynard said.

Secure St Lucia Ltd was advised by the Labour Department to recommence the outstanding overtime payments due to Security Guards, an issue that has been outstanding since 2014.

The de-unionization the NWU feared seems to be in the making. Yesterday a release from Secure St. Lucia stated that its Welfare Committee, which has since been repurposed and reenergized, has taken up the mantle to be the voice of employees and to provide assistance to amicably address internal matters.

“Guided by the provisions in the Labour Code, the employees through the Committee have taken the appropriate action to de-unionize from the National Workers Union and have kept the Department of Labour fully abreast on the situation,” stated the release.

According to the release among the key initiatives of the Welfare Committee is to be the first point of contact for employees with a view to address and direct any concerns through the appropriate channels.

The release also noted that the Welfare Committee seeks to engender a work environment at the company that is productive, efficient and in the best interest of employees and has undertaken moral boosting activities.

“Further, the Welfare Committee is aware management has paid out more than half of outstanding overtime dues to a significant number of its employees. An agreement with the management of Secure St Lucia Ltd on a timeline to settle remaining payments has already been finalized,” noted the release.

It went on to state that employees had responded favourably to the reinvigorated Welfare Committee and had expressed confidence that their concerns would be better handled by those who stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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