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Tuesday 12 November 2019
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[UPDATED] Union accuses CAL of bullying workers

FILE PHOTO
FILE PHOTO

Peter Farmer, secretary general of the Aviation Communication and Allied Workers Union (ACAWU), yesterday raised concerns that Caribbean Airlines (CAL) management was “bullying its workers.”

Speaking at a press conference at the Communications Workers Union (CWU) office on Henry Street, Port of Spain, Farmer said that could result in mental illness, physical disorders and even suicide while CAL had been playing with serious issues that had been affecting workers for years.

Farmer said workplace abuse presented a grave threat not only to the mental, physical and economic welfare of all CAL’s workers, but also to the safety of the travelling public.

He said, since last year, CAL had been placing movable cages with chains around aircraft once they were grounded but they were not needed.

“I would love the company to state why they felt there is a need for that type of security. Men have to work in cages. There is a reason for that.

“I ask you to get that answer from CAL. The damage that has been done is grave and must be repaired.”

Farmer also said the union was calling for the removal of Roger Berkeley, vice president of human resources.

“He ought not to receive any travel benefits on his removal. ACAWU is the voice of our members, and we are saying that we will consider not processing him at the traffic counter and not serving him on flights. We want him gone!”

Asked via e-mail about the security controls in the restricted area of the hangar, where aircraft were maintained and parked, CAL corporate communications manager Dionne Ligoure said, in accordance with TT Civil Aviation Authority and Airports Authority regulations, all authorised staff and people wishing to access the air-side restricted area at Piarco, which includes the hangar or Caribbean Airlines’ compound, were subject to screening and other security controls.

Ligoure also said the measure was taken to ensure that only authorised people entered the security-restricted areas.

She said it was a requirement to make certain that people did not carry prohibited items which could be used for an act of unlawful interference.

“As such, and for Caribbean Airlines to be compliant with these regulations, authorised people operating in the hangar are subject to screening and security controls.”

Farmer said one of the reasond he felt CAL was operating in that way was the dissatisfaction of the workers and the belief they would harm the aircraft.

He said the workers were under a lot of pressure and had reached the stage where they were scared to speak, while CAL was not recognising the union.

“CAL is a state enterprise and taxpayers’ money is involved. This is very difficult. The union happens to be real-time monitors of how that money is being spent. CAL refuses to engage the trade union in any way. Since 2007 they said they were a new company.

“That is a sham. It is a sham because no one can go by the registrar tomorrow, change their name and come back and go to their wives and say, ‘Well, look, I am not married to you any more.’ That is the kind of sham that they are perpetrating.”

It was important to note, he said, that the Ministry of Labour recognises the union, “but CAL has taken the position that they are not going to recognise it. What we also have to do is make an application to the industrial court for a declaration.”

Asked if CAL recognised ACAWU, Ligoure said, “ACAWU’s recognition as a union is currently being dealt with by Caribbean Airlines’ attorneys. However, Caribbean Airlines has a well-established health and safety work culture and environment.”

She said the airline industry was one of the most highly regulated industries in the world and as an FAA approved station, “Caribbean Airlines operates in strict compliance with regulatory and statutory health and safety standards.

“Caribbean Airlines is focused on its objectives to provide a safe and progressive work environment for its valued employees. And to execute its mandate to provide unrivalled connectivity for the Caribbean region.”

Farmer also raised questions about the purpose and cost to taxpayers of a reported trip by CAL CEO Garvin Madera to France in June.

This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


Peter Farmer, secretary general of the Aviation Communication and Allied Workers Union (ACAWU), today raised concerns that Caribbean Airlines (CAL) management is "bullying its workers.”

Speaking at a press conference at the Communications Workers Union (CWU) office on Henry Street, Port of Spain, Farmer said this could result in mental illness, physical disorders and even suicide while CAL has been playing with serious issues that have been affecting workers for years.

Farmer said workplace abuse presented a grave threat not only to the mental, physical and economic welfare of all CAL’s workers, but also to the safety of the travelling public.

He said since last year CAL has been placing movable cages with chains around aircraft once they are grounded, but they are not needed.

“I would love the company to state why they felt there is a need for that type of security. Men have to work in cages. There is a reason for that.

"I ask you to get that answer from CAL. The damage that has been done is grave and must be repaired. Immediately we are calling for the removal of Roger Berkeley, vice president, human resource."

Asked via e-mail about the security controls in the restricted area of the hangar, where aircraft are maintained and parked, CAL corporate communications manager Dionne Ligoure said in accordance with TT Civil Aviation Authority and Airports Authority regulations, all authorised staff and people wishing to access the air-side restricted area at Piarco, which includes the hangar or Caribbean Airlines' compound, are subject to screening and other security controls.

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