The Management of Wales Estate have forced about seventy (70) workers from the Mechanical Tillage gang to engage in strike from (Tuesday) May 15, 2012. The Management imposed 7.00am as the starting time for workers to take up work. The workers who are engaged in tilling land would commence working at 6.00am and whenever the weather restricts tillage they would normally be assigned work in the precincts of the Estate’s compound also at 6.00am.
Following the management arbitrary decision, a delegation of workers met with Management representatives who reportedly told them that they could either “take it or leave it”.
The matter was then reported to the Union’s Head Office which arranged a meeting with Guysuco centrally on (Wednesday) May 16, 2012. At that meeting, the Guysuco representative advised the Union to represent once again the matter at the Estate level saying that the Management was spoken to.
Again the Union met with the Estate’s Management who insisted that the workers must report to work at 7.00am and only when tillage work is available they will report from 6.00am. After that meeting some workers participated in a picketing exercise outside the Estate’s Administrative Office. Some of their slogans included:-
- Stop Arbitrary and Dictatorial Change
- We start to work at 6.00am not 7.00am
- Stop arbitrary change of our working condition
- Down with “take it or leave it attitude”
The Union then referred the matter on May 17, 2012 to the Ministry of Labour. The Chief Labour Officer (a.g.), Cde Charles Ogle, met representatives from GAWU and Guysuco to have the matter resolved. He recommended that the workers take up work today (May 18, 2012) at 6.30am and to allow further discussion between the Management of the Estate and the Union.
This morning (May 18, 2012) after a two-hour session with the Union, the Estate Management refused to allow the status quo ante to prevail. The workers decided to continue their protest in the ensuing days. In the meantime, another meeting has been arranged by the Chief Labour Officer on (Monday) May 21, 2012 at 10.00am.
The Advisory Committee inquiring into the dispute at Blairmont Estate last February, in its report, which was presented to the Union on May 17, 2012, concluded that arbitrary changes to long-standing practices by the Estate Management caused the industrial action which persisted from February 10, 2012 for twelve (12) days. In the report the Committee noted “that all customs and practices prior to the strike be reverted to and Management and the Union meet and discuss and agree on change”.
The Management of Wales Estate and Guysuco must take heed of the observations made by the Advisory Committee with respect to altering arbitrarily working conditions and changing customs and practices.