Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Boycott Royal Shop!

I usually refrain from blogging about union matters but I have to say something about what's happening at the jewellery store The Royal Shop on Broad Street. Last Friday, workers there took action over the dismissal of a colleague who, according to management "was terminated for refusing transfer from the Broad Street store to the Bridgetown Port store". (quote taken from Daily Nation)

Further investigations revealed that the woman at the centre of the dispute, Kimberley Beckles, was the company's union shop steward and that according to the union, her transfer was tantamount to termination because the conditions at the two branches were extremely different.

According to the union, an employee at Broad Street worked 52 weeks, with full week's pay based on an hourly rate and commission based on meeting set targets which varied monthly; while at the Port, an employee worked only from October to April on a week by week basis, and for the rest of the year, that employee would work on a casual basis of two days every two weeks – a total of 20 hours.

What really got me upset about this whole situation was that the management of Royal Shop not only refused to allow Ms. Beckles to come back to work until they and the union settled the issue, but fired the other workers who joined her on the picket line! Apparently a whole group of new workers was hired over the weekend as well and it's business as usual at the Royal Shop.

As a card-carrying member of a union, I find the Royal Shop's action despicable and against the rules of fair play. This behaviour can't work in a modern day Barbados and even though I know it will be disruptive, I hope the Barbados Workers' Union goes ahead with its last-ditch effort of calling out all the BWU members on Broad Street. A strong message has to be sent to managers who feel they can treat their staff members like disposable rags. I say boycott the Royal Shop and spend your money at one of the other jewellery stores!

Photo: Managing Director of the Royal Shop, Hironan Thani (left) and his wife in discussion with Acting Commissioner of Police, Morgan Greaves.

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