Stuart said he was expecting one person to deliver the letter to him at Parliament but when told that all the leaders wanted to be present, he agreed and waited for them to be shown to his office. He assumed that this message was delivered to them.
“I waited upstairs in my office at Parliament for upwards of one half of an hour for the persons who were to deliver the letter. “When I inquired about the delay, I was told the trade unionists were meeting with the Leader of the Opposition and they would come to me afterwards.”
“Subsequent to that, I got a follow up message that the union leaders will leave the letter downstairs Parliament because their police permission had imposed timelines which they did not want to breach. So it is not true to say that I refused to meet with the union leaders,” he said.
In an effort to clarify reports, the Prime Minister said that when the officer from the Special branch made him aware of the matter, he agreed to receive the letter.
“I indicated that I saw nothing wrong with making myself available to the person who was going to hand the letter over.”
However, according to the Prime Minister, the police officer on Tuesday, communicated that all the union leaders wanted to be present and he agreed to their request.
The Prime Minister underscored the importance he attached to the receiving of the letter explaining: “On Tuesday, around 12:20 p.m., I got up while Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler was speaking; I got up and left the Chamber, a practice I don’t ordinarily follow. I do not leave the Chamber when my Ministers are speaking. But I considered this occasion significant enough to justify my varying that practice”
Stuart said he received and read the letter while reiterating his respect for the trade union movement. He pledged Government’s continued commitment to working with all stakeholders, including the trade unions, towards the well-being of citizens.
The unions have been protesting against the 400 percent hike in the National Social Responsibility Levy and on Tuesday hundreds voiced they dissatisfaction by participating in a march organised by the Barbados Workers’ Union, National Union of Public Workers, Barbados Union of Teachers and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union.
The unions are demanding that there be a reduction in the levy and have given Government a two-week ultimatum to accede to their request or they will take industrial action.
- Countries: Barbados