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May 13, 2009

P.M. responds to conflict between B.E.L. and B.E.W.U.

Story PictureWith all eyes on the B.E.W.U. News Five caught up with Prime Minister Barrow this morning and got his reaction on remarks from the union that it is restraining itself from pulling the switch for a nationwide shut-down. So how does the P.M. intend to quell the ongoing problem between B.E.L. and the union?

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“The Ministry of Labour can try to encourage but ultimately that has to depend on the protagonists, on the two parties. If though, it reaches a point—and I hope it doesn’t—where there is any effort to interrupt the service to consumers on the part of the workers, well I just ask them to remember that it is an essential service and that government does have the power in a circumstance such as that to intervene. I don’t want to send the wrong signal. We sympathize with the workers at B.E.L. but I don’t enough about the details of the issues that have led to this confrontation between the company and the workers to be able to say who’s right and who’s wrong. I believe that there’s a great deal of sympathy for the workers but if they act in a way that inconveniences and economically causes losses to consumers, they might lose that sympathy. So it’s a matter for them but I just want to ask that they be as cautious as possible, as circumspect as possible, as careful as possible.”

Marion Ali
“But they feel that they shouldn’t be the ones to be blamed if anything should occur, if they happen to reach that extent. They feel as if though their concerns are not being heard, their requests are not being met so if that occurs it would be because it had to happen.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
But there are provisions in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between them and the company for these disputes to be handled. I don’t know why those provisions are perhaps not proven effective. I simply don’t know enough. I will need some kind of report, some kind of brief from the Minister of Labour—from the Ministry of Labour but I am merely saying to the workers, please exhaust every legitimate recourse provided by your Collective Bargaining Agreement, provided by the labour law before you think in terms of the ultimate step because you go that route then you’re really looking at getting into conflict with the law and in my view with the society.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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