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PSU warns it will step up protest action against NSC

PSU warns it will step up protest action against NSC

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Organizations in St Vincent and the Grenadines are waging an attack on the collective bargaining process.

President of the Public Service Union (PSU) Elroy Boucher shared this view with the media on Tuesday, as the executive members of his union staged a protest in front {{more}}of the National Sports Council (NSC) headquarters to bring attention to an unsigned collective agreement with that organization.

Earlier this week, it was reported that after both entities had negotiated a collective agreement in 2011, the NSC had still not signed the agreement, but recently sent the document to be reviewed by the Attorney General’s office.

According to Boucher, this action is simply meant to stall the signing of the agreement and he questioned why the document had not been sent to the Attorney General’s office in the negotiation stages.

“The union will insist, will hold steadfast to the view that collective agreements in St Vincent and the Grenadines; the process must be respected and these agreements must be signed and those corporations that are negligent, we have to take steps to force them to do what is right,” Boucher said.

Boucher told reporters that groundsmen employed with the NSC work in their own clothes and are not entitled to pensions. He indicated that the agreement was a simple one which addressed pensions, wages, vacation time and working conditions.

“You are saying in your mind, as a board, as a management, they are not that important and your attempt really is to treat them as you want. There is no protective clothing and this has been going on for a number of years. If they are so concerned with workers, when is it going to stop?” he questioned.

Boucher therefore called on the Government to remove the NSC board, as they are not “thinking about national development” when they do not want to sign an agreement that outlines the rights of workers.

Acting manager of the NSC Julian Burgin explained that, as far as he is aware, the agreement was not signed because of certain items on the agreement that were not resolved during the negotiation stages.

He also indicated that no worker has expressed that they were unhappy and that the NSC provides the necessary gear for workers to carry out their duties.

“…I do not know of workers complaining about not having protective gear. The council may not necessarily have everything that is needed, but the basic equipment is there to protect the workers. Several are provided with overalls, as needs be… Not all workers do the same thing,” he said.

“There may be instances where persons will probably think that they should have more, maybe construction style boots or what have you, but the council’s position is such that we operate under limited financial resources and whereas we are concerned for the workers, there are constraints that keep us from doing what necessarily needs to be done at certain times.”

According to the acting manager, the NSC is funded mostly by the Government, the National Lotteries Authority and income from renting some of their facilities. He, however, noted that expenditure for the council has increased over the past three years because of increased wages for workers.

While the PSU has been making attempts to have the agreement signed this year, Burgin noted that it was negotiated for the 2012-2013 period, which has already expired. He added that the NSC board decided not to sign the agreement earlier this year, but instead sent it to the Attorney General for advice on the matter.

If the matter is not resolved in an adequate time frame, Boucher has indicated that the PSU will take the necessary steps for the agreement to be signed. He said the next step may include another protest where workers join the executives on the picket line. (BK)

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