The Grenada Breweries limited (GBL), plagued by an escalating industrial row, says it was forced to reverse its decision to allow striking workers back on its compound over fears of vandalism.
The GBL was reacting publicly for the first time in the face of growing industrial tensions here over its decision to deny entry to employees who attempted to return to work Tuesday after a one week strike.
The industrial drama unfolding in St. George’s has already resulted in the brief detention of prominent trade union leader Chester Humphrey and clashes between protesting workers and riot police.
“..the unwarranted and senseless escalation of this matter has created a situation where the company is compelled to protect its people and assets from the possibility of further malicious acts” a release from the GBL stated.
“Under the circumstances the Company has been forced to reconsider its position on several matters including the offer to allow the workers to resume their duties after the 48 hour time line as requested by the Minister of Labour”.
Labour Minister Glynis Roberts wrote to the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) calling for an end to the strike after mediation talks last week Friday failed to reach a settlement on a wage dispute.
The workers have been demanding a salary increase of 7 percent over a three year period while the company is offering 2.7 percent.
The statement from GBL released Wednesday afternoon makes reference to acts of ‘mischief’ that the company claims have disrupted operations within the plant.
However, the four page release did not elaborate on the extent of the alleged disruptions.
“Over the last few weeks parallel to these events, there have been several acts of ‘mischief’ that have disrupted operations within the breweries plant…” the statement claimed.
“Consequently the Company strongly believes that under these adversarial circumstances it is unadvisable to allow the workers access to the compound until all outstanding matters have been settled to the satisfaction of both GBL and the Union”.
The statement from the GBL also has accused TAWU of misleading its workers and frustrating the negotiating process.
“Even though both parties recognize that there is an accepted process for resolving such disputes the workers abandoned their posts and engaged in industrial action contrary to the provisions in the collective agreement” said the GBL, owned by Ansal Mc Cal the group of companies based in Trinidad.
“The company deems this to a be an unfortunate event as it is our belief that our employees are being misled into a premature escalation of the matter and to engage in an act that is counterproductive – apparently part of a wider Union agenda”.
Earlier Police armed with shields and batons used force to remove the workers blocking the entrance of the factory to prevent delivery trucks from leaving.