Labour dispute sent to Ministry
By DARCEL CHOY Saturday, July 28 2012
THE Public Services Association (PSA) is warning that workers at the National Insurance Board (NIB) may embark on strike action after the recent breakdown in wage negotiations for the period 2008 to 2010.
In a statement, the PSA condemned the board’s referral of the matter to the Ministry of Labour as a dispute. The PSA said the decision came without any discussion occurring on the majority of proposals put forward by the association.
“As a consequence of the ministry’s acceptance of the dispute, the door is now wide open for workers to embark on strike action, an option which is being actively considered. Responsibility for the inevitable hardships that would follow from such action must be laid squarely at the feet of the NIB, the Minister of Labour and the Cabinet who is dictating to these bodies,” the PSA said.
Workers have held several protests which began late last year as they campaigned against an “unbearable” five percent wage hike put on the table by the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO). The association said they considered this “spurning of the bilateral process” to be unbecoming of what is supposed to be a labour oriented agency where three representatives of the trade union movement sit on the board of management. “The association expects greater commitment to the bilateral process on the part of such an employer,” it said.
The PSA also raised questions about the impartiality of ministry of labour officials in accepting the matter as a dispute when, contrary to the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act, “suitable procedures for setting disputes” have not been exhausted as 86 percent of proposals put up by the association have not been broached and only ten meetings have been held on the matter.
The association noted that in such circumstances, the law requires that the matter be referred back to parties to complete discussions at the bilateral level.