by Linda Straker
Christopher De Allie, head of the negotiating team for the National Water and Sewage Authority (NAWASA) has confirmed that the industrial protest which began on 18 December 2017 concluded with a temporary non-disclosure agreement that restricts both the trade union and the statutory body from speaking about the reason why the workers return to work.
“At our meeting last Friday, we reached an understanding and agreed that both sides will not speak publicly about the terms and conditions for concluding the protest and that all the workers will return to work on Monday,” said De Allie.
Andre Lewis, President General of the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) had earlier announced that all the workers returned to work as of Monday, 15 January. He also explained that details should not be made public about the concluding terms and conditions until “the time is right.”
45 contract workers assigned to the transmission and distribution division of NAWASA downed tools and began the industrial protest, amid efforts to have the statutory body make them permanent workers instead of operating through the continuous renewing of contracts.
The union said that some of the workers have been in the position for more than 20 years and that the contracts are not assisting in helping them to improve their lives through initiatives which require letters of employment.
“So, they cannot go to the bank for a loan with a contract agreement,” Lewis told the media during the protest.
Labour Minister Oliver Joseph had recommended that the parties go to arbitration to solve the matter, but the union insisted that all the workers become permanent workers. NAWASA’s position was that employees who meet the established criteria should have their status regularised at the expiration of their current contract, as stated in a news release from the NAWASA in late December.
December was declared ‘Red December’ by the TAWU as it sought to address a number of contentious issues at different workplaces especially contract employment. The union said that it would target a number of employers including the Grenada Breweries Limited, Caribbean Agro, Calabash Hotel, Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority, Grenada Broadcasting Network, SVG Air, and the National Water and Sewage Authority.
By the end of December, only the contracted workers at NAWASA and workers the union represents at the National Lottery Authority (NLA) had engaged in industrial protest.