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Industrial action Looms at Port Authority

Industrial action Looms at Port Authority


If the management of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority does not respond favourably to the National Workers Movement (NWM) by today, Friday March 10, there will be industrial action at the Kingstown Port. {{more}}

That’s the word from NWM’s general secretary Noel Jackson. He was speaking last Tuesday at the Union’s office.

The bone of contention is the dismissal of seven Port workers recently.

The National Workers’ Movement (NWM) won the recognition poll at the Port last week Friday. They received 64 votes as opposed to 43 secured by the Commercial Technical and Allied Workers’ Union (CTAWU). Some 189 workers were listed on the Port’s roster.

NWM’s general secretary Noel Jackson was rather muted about his triumph over his rival union, but he was concerned about the recent dismissals.

Jackson, alongside Silma McLean, NWM’s assistant General Secretary and Clifford Gould, Education Officer, as well as the Port’s Deputy Manager Chester Charles and Accountant Lance Stephenson gave a background to the situation on the Port.

The NWM is not happy with the way the Port went about the dismissal of the workers. Jackson is also not happy that the NWM was not informed about the restructuring process currently underway at the port. He expressed the view that the Port’s action amounted to a violation of the law. He is asking for dialogue on the issue.

For Jackson, the Port’s action is “high handed and smacks of disrespect.”

Jackson referred to a previous meeting with acting Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker relating to the workers’ reinstatement.

According to the Port officials, the workers’ termination was to facilitate a restructuring process. However, Jackson pointed out that the offer to engage the NWM in the restructuring process signaled a departure from approved procedure. For Jackson, the Port is putting “the cart before the horse.”

He cited that the Port made a “fundamental error” in dismissing the workers, and added that there was no “proper justification for termination.”

Jackson chided the Port for failing to correct a mistake in the first place and accused the authorities of believing that “might is right.”

Jackson is worried about the repercussions of the Port’s actions and he foresees “serious implications” as a result of the Port’s actions.

Jackson was concerned that the “private sector will take the cue,” and that “Trade Unions will be struggling for their survival.”

The NWM general secretary also decried the lack of trade union solidarity and lamented the inactivity of the National Labour Congress. The NLC was formed in 1994, ostensibly to engender unity among trade unions.