Derek Achong

The Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) has sought the Industrial Court’s intervention in resolving the lengthy delay in Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (Cariri) employees receiving their back pay for a salary increases awarded by the court. In a letter sent to the court’s registrar on Monday and obtained by Guardian Media, BIGWU’s acting President Mario Als called for the court’s assistance to justly and expeditiously determine Cariri’s delay in abiding with the court’s previous deadlines. “We ask too that due consideration be given to the possibility of further delay and consequent further injustice to the workers affected by the court’s order given the impending expiration of the fiscal year as at end-September, 2021,” Als said. According to reports, the wage dispute between the parties reached the Industrial Court after negotiations for 2013, 2014, and 2015 broke down. The dispute affects a little over 140 workers employed by the State-owned organisation, which conducts research and laboratory testing. In January last year, the court ordered that the workers be paid salary increases, Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), and corresponding back pay. The payments were due to be made in January this year, but Cariri obtained an extension until the end of July. Attached to BIGWU’s correspondence to the court were two letters from Cariri, in which it claimed that the Government had allocated the funds to its line ministry, the Ministry of Planning and Development, in its mid-term review for fiscal 2021. Cariri also said it was awaiting the release of the funds to make the payments. “Of concern to the union and workers is that the undue delay being occasioned in the face of the order of the court appears to be an act of subversion by an authority beyond that of the employer, viz., the Ministry of Finance,” Als said.