by Linda Straker
The Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) has called on its broader membership to observe Thursday, 4 January 2018 as a day of solidarity with the workers of the state-owned National Water and Sewage Authority (NAWASA) as part of its strategy to resolve the industrial protest centred around contract workers.
TAWU — the trade union for some private sector workers, state-owned enterprises and public officers in some government ministries — in a flyer distributed on Wednesday morning called on the ‘TAWU family’ to show its support to protesting workers by observing Thursday as ‘a day of solidarity.’
The flyer did not say how the wider membership should show its support and solidarity, and efforts to seek clarity from President General Senator Andre Lewis was unsuccessful.
Accusing NAWASA of exploiting the contracted workers, the union in its flyer said that they are underpaid, and their years of service not counted. “NAWASA wants to deny them their pensionable benefits. NAWASA gives them less annual leave than that given to permanent workers with the same amount of years and service,” stated the flyer.
However, in its update NAWASA — the country’s sole residential water supplier — said that it has been working towards regularisation of contracted employees and has shifted its original offer to make all contract workers with more than 2-years’ service, permanent.
“NAWASA is extremely disappointed that the matter remains unresolved, despite having made a significant shift in its position in the spirit of compromise. NAWASA has offered to make all contracted employees with more than 2 years of service permanent, with an option to ensure that such persons do not lose recognition for any year of service for which gratuity was not paid,” its news release stated.
Expressing its disappointment, NAWASA’s release stated, “Unfortunately, the union made no movements maintaining its original position; that all contracted employees (even those on contract for just a few months) must be made permanent, and that all appointments must be retroactive from the date of first contract, notwithstanding that gratuity was paid.”
Some of these workers have contracts has short as 3 months.
Negotiations to regularise the contracted workers began in 2014. The workers who are not paying monthly union fee dues are contracted to provide temporary services within some divisions and units which comprise unionised workers whom are represented by TAWU.