Population: 272 000
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 - 87 - 98 - 100 - 105 - 111 - 138 - 182
Under the law, employers are not legally obliged to recognise unions. Essential workers may only strike under certain circumstances and after detailed procedures. During the year an employee was sacked by a financial services company for trying to gain union recognition at his workplace, while a mobile phone company tried to bully workers into leaving their union.
Trade union rights in law
Under the law, employers have no legal obligation to recognise unions.
Anti union activity by employers is not prohibited, but workers who are wrongfully dismissed can apply to the courts – they may be awarded compensation, but are rarely reemployed.
Right to organise and bargain collectively: The law provides for the right for private and public sector employees to strike, but essential workers may only strike under certain circumstances and after following prescribed procedures.
Since 1993 a set of protocols has provided for increases in wages and increases based on productivity. The fifth prices and incomes protocol was signed by government, private sector and union representatives in 2005.
There are no export processing zones.
Trade union rights in practice
Although employers do not need to recognise unions, many do so when a significant proportion of the workforce wanted to be represented by a registered union, although there have been cases where employers have fought union recognition.
Workers exercised their legal rights to organise and bargain collectively.
Violations in 2006
CLICO sacks long-term employee for union activities: On 3 April CLICO Holdings, a financial services company, sacked Bruce Clark, after 23 years of service, on the grounds that the company was ‘restructuring’. Clark had been trying to get union recognition for the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) at CLICO’s.
The BWU previously had written to the chairman of CLICO holdings telling him that more than 50 per cent of CLICO’s 115 workers wanted to be represented by the BWU.
After Bruce Clark was sacked, 70 of the workers went on strike to protest. The chairman of CLICO Holdings Barbados Limited, Leroy Parris responded that if it was shown that the majority if the non-managerial employees wanted to be represented by the BWU, then the company would agree to union recognition.
The BWU later reported that CLICO had agreed to union recognition and that Bruce Clark had been reinstated.
Digicel intimidates union members: On 11 November, the BWU noted that the Digicel mobile phone company was asking workers to leave their union and to allow the company to deal with their concerns directly. Union members had reported receiving unusually low merit ratings in their appraisals, relative to non-unionised workers.
According to Robert Morris, BWU Deputy General Secretary, Digicel’s behaviour was “typical of companies owned by some expatriates who refuse to use internal methods of conflict resolution, ignore the workers, and then try to stifle their democratic rights to join the trade union movement”.