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Union silent following talks with Barbados government

Friday, December 27, 2013

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados—The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is keeping silent following three hours of talks earlier this week with officials from the Ministry of the Civil Service in the wake of the announcement by the Barbados government that it would retrench at least 3,000 workers as it seeks to revive an ailing economy.


Last week, the NUPW, which represents the majority of public workers here, said it had submitted six proposals to the government in a bid to save the jobs of thousands of workers who are likely to be retrenched from early next month. Media reports last week, said the proposals include voluntary retirement; amendments to the Pensions Act which would allow officers to receive their pension and gratuity at age 60; incentive for early retirement at age 55 which would include one year’s salary in bonds and reduction of the work week.


But as he emerged from the closed door meeting, NUPW general secretary, Denis Clarke, would not comment on the outcome of the meeting. He did indicate that the union was hoping for a miracle in keeping with the Christmas season. The union is due to hold another meeting with its membership following the Christmas break. The government said the first 2,000 job cuts would take place by January 15, followed by others by March 1.


Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler said the plan to cut public service jobs would result in the government saving as much as Bds $143 million and that the government had also agreed to institute a “strict programme of attrition” across the central public service, filling posts only where it is absolutely unavoidable, over the next five years, ending 2018-2019.


“This attrition is expected to reduce central government employment levels from approximately 16,970 to 14,612 jobs—a projected loss of 2,358 posts; and savings of Bds $121 million. Over the current 19-month adjustment period public sector employment will be reduced by an additional 501 jobs with a projected savings of Bds $26 million,” he added.


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