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CLICO, BAICO employees protest

By SASHA HARRINANAN Saturday, July 5 2014

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PROTEST: Workers from CLICO and British American with their union, BIGWU, in protest action outside the Central Bank Port-of-Spain, yesterday....
PROTEST: Workers from CLICO and British American with their union, BIGWU, in protest action outside the Central Bank Port-of-Spain, yesterday....

WEARING bright red t-shirts, more than 120 employees of the British American Insurance Company (BAICO) and Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) yesterday staged a mid-morning protest outside the Central Bank at Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.

Several of the men and women carried placards that bore messages demanding respect from the bank and an end to the “slow pace of negotiations” between the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) and respective companies regarding an outstanding offer of voluntary separation of employment packages (VSEP).

“Workers were frustrated over the slow pace of negotiations,” said BIGWU deputy president Mario Als. “There was a promise to submit details of the VSEP to the union and workers on or before last Friday June 27, but nothing has materialised,” he said. Als noted that when the union asked for information on the VSEP at a meeting with BAICO and CLICO representatives last Tuesday, BIGWU was told what had been submitted to Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran, “was not yet approved and therefore they were not in a position to engage in any kind of meaningful dialogue with us.”

Als said the union wanted to bring the fight to (Rambarran) because, “if he is the man in charge, then the governor is who we now have to deal with concerning this continuous delay and continuous duplicity which is impacting adversely on the lives of workers.”

Als also spoke of workers’ concern about a recent decision to rescind plans to establish a State enterprise called Atrius, which would have acquired CLICO’s profitable business and employed some of its agents.

However, he expressed hope that at a meeting scheduled for next Wednesday with BAICO and CLICO representatives, “they would come to the table with some meaningful proposals with a view to bringing quick resolution to this matter.”

A Central Bank release yesterday stated that while authorisation was given on June 13, to the management of CLICO to begin negotiations with BIGWU for VSEP for all CLICO employees, it (CBTT), “is not party to VSEP negotiations.”

The bank assured that it will review and approve the final agreement on VSEP terms and conditions submitted by CLICO’s Board. “The Central Bank is mindful of the difficult circumstances CLICO’s employees have endured over the last five years, and we are committed to ensuring a resolution to this matter, as soon as possible, always respecting proper industrial relations practices and the rights of CLICO and BIGWU to engage in their negotiations accordingly. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for Wednesday July 9, 2014,” the bank’s release stated.

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