Above: Grenada Breweries Limited
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The industrial impasse at Grenada Breweries Limited has come to an end, following several months of deadlock.
The end of the action this week was confirmed to Caribbean Journal by Senator Chester Humphrey, president of the Technical and Allied Workers Union.
Carib Beer, among other products, is brewed at Grenada Breweries Limited.
It was a development welcomed by Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
“It is important that we recognize and respect the crucial role of labour and capital in our economic development,” Thomas said. “It is also important that each side in any dispute appreciate the value of the other partner, especially in bringing solutions to disagreements and disputes.”
According to Humphrey, the resolution came after GBL indicated it would go as far as closing the plant; the union had said it would proceed to court for a determination, but GBL reportedly was willing to defend the case all the way to the Privy Council if necessary.
The TAWU had at that time considered a national strike, Humphrey said, but ultimately decided against it because of the indications that plant could be closed.
“In such a situation, with the threat of the plant closing, and 120 workers without work, we arrived at a compromise,” he said.
The deal involves a cash payment of 8 months pay, Humphrey said, along with a 9 percent wage increase and several other modifications. In return, the union agreed to a change in the profit-sharing agreement.
“We had to make a compromise,” he said. “The company had locked the workers out for two months without pay, and the union had to be financing salaries. The most important thing was that the workers never lost confidence in the union.”
The controversy came to a boil in December when Humphrey was arrested by police.
“The world has changed significantly, so there is room for a more harmonious relationship between capital and labour, to the benefit of all,” Thomas said.
Humphrey said he was heartened by the support the union received from regional trade workers.
“A number of trade unions sent us monetary contributions in order to keep the struggle going, and we have a debt of gratitude to the entire labour movement in the region for this,” he said.
According to the Senator, an amendment to the Labour Relations Act has been sponsored that would address potential lockouts in the future.
“If that succeeds, it will correct a major deficiency in the act,” he said.
GBL could not be reached for comment.