Long Pond Sugar Company Ltd v Bustamante Industrial Trade Union
Industrial Disputes Tribunal
No. 70 of 1978
Labour law - Industrial disputes — Wage increases.
Labour law - Industrial disputes — Improved fringe benefits.
By way of letter dated 10th October, 1978, the Honourable Minister of Labour in accordance with subsection (1)(a) section 11a of the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act, referred to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal for determination and settlement an industrial dispute :between the company and the union.
The terms of reference to the tribunal were:
“To determine and settle the dispute between Long Pond Sugar Company Limited on the one hand and certain categories of workers employed by the company and represented by the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union on the other hand, over claims served on the company by the union in letter dated November 9, 1977, for increased wages and improved fringe benefits on behalf of the said categories of workers”.
The division of the tribunal selected to hear the dispute was comprised of –
Mr. Nathan Richards — Chairman
Mr. Noel Escoffery — Employers' representative
Mr. Edward Dixon — Workers' representative,
The company was represented by
Mr. Robert Bough — Attorney-at-law
Mr. Maurice Harrison
Mr. Derrick Brown
Mr. Ken Gascoigne
The union was represented by –
Honourable H.L. Shearer
Mr. Clifton Stone
Submissions and Sittings
Prior to the commencement of the hearing both parties submitted written briefs. Oral submissions were made at three (3) sittings of the tribunal held between 24th and 27th November, 1978 and nineteen (19) exhibits were tendered in evidence.
Background to the Dispute
The dispute arose out of the company's alleged inability to meet in full the demand of the union for increased wages and improved fringe benefits.
In November 1977, the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union served a 29 point claim on the management of Long Pond Sugar Company for improved wages and fringe benefits on behalf of the clerical and supervisory workers. The union subsequently won bargaining rights for the workers in June 1978.
During the hearings the parties indicated that twelve (12) items of the claim had either been settled or were being withdrawn from the tribunal, thus leaving the tribunal to adjudicate an seventeen (17) items of claims which constitute the subject of the tribunal's award.
The company in its submission indicated that although it was experiencing severe financial losses it was prepared to offer wage increases of 20% of the 1976 wage rates subject to a minimum rate of $4,400 per annum for the period of the contract. In support of its position the company argued that settlements in respect of other bargaining units had pre-empted the wages fund and consequently it was not in a position to revise this offer upwards.
The union on the other hand, based its arguments primarily on comparability of wage rates and fringe benefits with other companies within that industry. It contended that the workers are entitled to a basic minimum rate of pay similar to that offered by other producers. It further contended that these workers were among the lowest paid the industry not having had any wage increase since the tribunal's award of 1976 was effected. Besides, given the spiraling cost of living which the workers were being subjected it was virtually impossible for them to subsist on the present level of...
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