New Tribunal To Hear Former NCC Workers’ Case
Government has already begun the process of establishing a new Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT) to hear the cases of the 77 retrenched workers of the National Conservation Commission (NCC).
This was disclosed by Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Sen. Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, during a press conference at her Warrens’ office on Saturday, December 20, to address the resignation of eight of nine members from the previous ERT.
She revealed that the new chair and deputy chairpersons had already been approved by Cabinet and would be officially appointed by Monday, December 29. The Ministry is now awaiting the submission of names from the National Union of Public Workers and the Employers organisation.
“The new chair and deputies will receive their instruments very shortly and then they will be meeting with me and the Ministry. This will happen within the next few days. Their mandate is to ensure that the ERT functions as a tribunal should, with simple proceedings that can be administered without undue delays,” the Minister said.
Regarding her email, which allegedly sparked the resignation of the members from the previous ERT, Dr. Suckoo stated that her Ministry attempted to resolve various requests made by those members. It was made clear by the members that these requirements had to be met before any action regarding the NCC workers could commence, however, according to the Minister, the ERT was granted the same resources provided to other functioning tribunals.
She divulged: “Before the appointment of this tribunal, I must assure you that we did have resources in place: the human, physical and financial resources in keeping with other tribunals. However, this particular tribunal had a different vision for their operation and still we attempted to meet most of the new requests…
“Additionally, taking government’s financial situation into consideration, some of the stated requirements were deemed unaffordable and not in the best interest of the taxpayers of Barbados and only served to delay the process.” Despite this fallout, the Minister said that she remains committed to seeing the NCC workers “have their day” and that justice is served.
Pointing to her preference for an ERT and not an industrial court, Dr. Byer Suckoo said: “I think it is too soon to abandon the ERT. We’ve had some difficulties, and you may expect that when setting up a new system, but I believe we can still work with it, and I believe in the long run we will not be disappointed by our decision to do so.”