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NWU Winera Relationship

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Whenever NWU officials were seen in Vieux Fort they were heckled and asked to leave Vieux Fort. This situation got so bad that NWU Mobilisation Team had to travel on Billy Bee, a Rambally bus that took passengers from Castries at about 4.00 a.m. down to Vieux Fort and returned to Castries by about 1.00 a.m. We found this to be a more secure method of going down to Vieux Fort and back.

After weeks of this type of “poule bois” operation, we succeeded in having the majority of WINERA workers to join the National Workers Union. It really happened and then it was too late for Joe and his squad to attempt to derail the NWU’s thrust in Vieux Fort. The NWU wrote for recognition to represent the WINERA workers. The Labour Commissioner carried out his survey and then made the disclosure that the NWU had over fifty-one percent (51%) in good financial standing.

The stakes were high and the Vieux Fort squad were not giving up. Their eyes, feet and mouth were on the following:

• $120,000.00 yearly contract to transport WINERA workers to and fromwork.

• Substantial payment for landscaping WINERA’s grounds.

• Substantial payment for providing a security service for WINERA.

• Good dollars for transporting paper from the Vieux Fort Dock to the plant.

• Good pay for supplying WINERA workers with meals when they worked overtime.

• Supplying WINERA with toilet paper, stationery, diesel, hard shoes and overalls.

• Supplying dock labour to work the boats carrying WINERA imported huge reels of paper.

It was clear that WINERA had become pivotal to the economic development of Vieux Fort. A payroll of over three hundred and fifty thousand dollars carried some economic weight. Operating three shifts with an enormous amount of overtime created the huge economic foundation that Vieux Fort was able to build. WINERA’s Chief Accountant at the time earned more money than Prime Minister John Compton then. Having exposed ourselves to all that kind of unexpected power play, we decided to restrict the NWU to industrial relation matters with WINERA and avoid being crushed by those men with heavy shoes.

The NWU’s first encounter was with WINERA’s General Manager, Rene Silva, a cool chap from the Spanish speaking region. He was not anti-union but played it very hard. Eventually we read through him and were able to handle him. During the period of our relationship both sides fought some crucial battles, but never ignored the overall operation of the company. It must not be forgotten that WINERA was in a very strategic position, providing cartoon boxes for the banana industry of Grenada, Saint Lucia, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This meant that one could not play with the plant’s operations at a time when bananas were ‘green gold’ for us all.

The NWU’s relationship with WINERA was built on trust, honesty, transparency and frankness. Our relationship could be described as a model one. We met with WINERA Directors when it became necessary. We had opportunities to see similar plants in operation at WINERA’s expense. The company contributed significantly towards our educational activities, and did much work on training and safety.

WINERA was the first company to buy into the NWU’s brain child of a Past Years of Service Benefit out of which $3.2 million were paid to workers. That was industrial revolution at work.

WINERA can now look back with pride at its forty (40) years of service to Saint Lucia, Grenada, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

LONG LIVE WINERA VIVA WINERA

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Protecting And Defending The Economic, Social, Educational, Cultural And Political Interest Of Workers
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