Daily Archives: August 14, 2006

Barbados Workers’ Union Spat Heats Up

The following letter was sent to us on Sunday by an unknown person. We have not fact-checked anything as yet, but we will post it for now pending further information. Can anyone provide additional background on this story?

If any of the parties mentioned in the story wish to dispute any of what is written, please email us and we will be happy to publish your side. 

Thanks,

Marcus

To the Chairman and Management of Online Consultants (B’dos) Limited –computer company:

A number of your employees have voiced concerns on recent matters that relate to your company. I must say that I am a bit surprised as to what was said, but I would want to give you a chance to respond to their statements. After all, there are “three” sides to a story.

Is it true…

That a number of your employees signed over to joint the BWU in the month of July 2006, because of a number of working concerns. – If true, what are the concerns/conditions that caused your employees to join the BWU?

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 2, 2006, from the Managing Director, was sent to all staff asking them to print their name with signature indicating their union membership status. – If true, don’t you know that this can be perceived as a form of victimization?

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 2, 2006, from the Managing Director, was sent out to all staff, informing them that Mr. S was no longer employed at your company. – If true, why would you send home an employee with a good company record?

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 4, 2006, from the Chairman, was sent out to all staff, asking them to indicate (with signature) that they are not a member of the union and that they have no wish for union representation. If true, why would you have to send out a second memo similar to the one dated 2006-08-02, and also, further asking staff to indicate that they do not “wish” representation –more victimization?

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 4, 2006, from the Chairman, was sent out to all staff, informing them that the company’s bonus schemes were suspended until further notice.

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 6, 2006, from the Managing Director, was sent out to all staff, informing them that Ms. S was no longer employed at your company effective Aug 2, 2006. – If true, why would you send home an employee with a good company working record?

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 9, 2006, from the Chairman, was sent out to all staff, informing them that files were deleted on a server and as a result you have since suspended Mr. G, Mr. C and Mr. R. And that you have involved the police. – If true, are these suspected employees suspended with pay?

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 10, 2006, from the Chairman, was sent out to all staff, informing them that because of “pressuring staff at home” on union activity, Mr. C was dismissed as of Aug 10, 2006. – If true, what type of pressure did he apply? Could not your staff just hang up the phone? How did Mr. C get the phone numbers to other staff members in the first place?

Is it true…

That a meeting was held between the remaining number of your staff and the BWU at solidarity house on August 10, 2006, to address the situation at your company. This is true; the meeting lasted up until 8.45pm!

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 11, 2006, from the Chairman, was sent out to all staff, informing staff that Ms. L was dismissed from your company. – If true, what was the reason for her dismissal?

Is it true…

That a memorandum dated August 11, 2006, from the Managing Director, was sent out to all staff, informing them that Ms. W was no longer employed at your company. – If true, why would you send home an employee with a good company working record?

Is it true…

That the Chairman said, “This is his company and he is prepared to shut it down and start back with a one door operation before he would allow employees to have union representation”. – If true, doesn’t the chairman realize that this statement can be perceived as threatening to staff?

I do hope that you the management of OLC can respond to the above. Your responses will be forwarded to Barbadians that are currently very interested in the well being of your staff.

As I understand it, your staff: are young hard working people with hopes and dreams now shattered because they believe that your current actions are a direct result of them seeking their God given right to representation.

I have gone ahead to list a few facts for you to consider.

Fact…

On speaking to several of your staff members that are still working for your organization, they believe wholeheartedly that recent events in your company (as noted above) are solely due to the fact that the BWU was asked to provide representation.

Fact…

Staff members spoken to, are openly and confidentially “fearful” of being victimized and or terminated by management because of their involvement with the BWU.

Fact…

As one of the leading computer companies in this country, you business is strategically positioned to play a pivotal roll in the development of information systems and support in Barbados. As your business grows and mature, Management should do the same.

Fact…

Employees mainly join unions because of a level of dissatisfaction with working conditions in an organization. I have listed a number of the conditions that were highlighted by your employees.

  1. Employees are only allowed half hour for lunch.
  2. At the head office employees are required to go into a low roof basement to collect and deliver items that are kept in storage. This is a safety issue that has resulted in injury to employees that are required to go into this area. Some employees have received cuts to there forehead as a result of entering this basement/cellar. When management is informed of the dangers the response is usually “you must remember to duck”. To date no alternative to improve on safety in this area has been recommended by management.
  3. If a technician is assembling a computer system (with Online Consultants parts) and one of the parts is found to be faulty, he/she has to pay for that part at “profit price” out of his/her own pocket.
  4. Profit scheme does not have an unbiased methodology. The scheme is administered at management’s discretion and open to extreme bias.
  5. Public holidays are included in an employee’s vacation period. Eg. If an employee is entitled to a week vacation and a public holiday falls in that week, the public holiday is included as vacation day.
  6. The company takes a vacation week in the month of December. During this week, Employees are expected to come in for one day to do stock taking. If an employee does not come in for that one day in that week, he/she will not be paid for the week.
  7. Employees are called on by management to do a myriad of functions in the office. Employees do not have job descriptions and they feel that they are not fairly compensated for the numerous responsibilities that management asks of them on a day to day basis. You are expected to do what ever you are told without question. Eg. Someone can be working from the front desk today and selling items, and tomorrow they can be working lifting boxes. A technician can be building computers today and tomorrow the same technician could be asked to look after the store in the absence of the store manager.
  8. The chairman does not allow feedback at meetings with staff. He speaks down to his people, giving a sense of, this is it, like it or lump it, its my way or the highway. There is no respect given to the voice of staff members at such meetings. The chairman’s favorite word happens to be the “f” word at such meetings.
  9. Management will victimize, intimidate, interrogate and or terminate (fire) employees if it is found that they have become members of a trade union.

Fact…

Because an employee joins a union, does not mean that he/she is less committed or dedicated to your company.

Fact…

After management found out that staff had joined the union, eight (8) people have since been sent home from the organization.

Fact…

Companies continue to exist and grow even after unions are formed and established.

Fact…

The Managing Director and Chairman can be contacted at (246) 435-7960. Anytime after 9.00am on Monday August 14.

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