BRIDGETOWN, Barbados—The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has accused the Freundel Stuart government of using technical maneuvers ahead of the January 15 date for trimming the public service by an estimated 3,000. NUPW general secretary Dennis Clarke said as many as 500 workers attached to the Drainages Division had been sent home on the last day of 2013.
“They would have been given fixed term contracts and in a lot of cases with the people from the Drainage, their fixed terms contracts would have come to an end on the 31st day of December. “Nobody is looking at the fact that these are persons who would have been on for four, sometimes five years, in a temporary situation, who, in my view, should have been appointed to the post that they were in,” Clarke said.
“That is the methodology being used to get rid of these people, which means then that they are not coming to the table to sit with the NUPW and the BWU (Barbados Workers Union) to work things out. “These people are members of either of the unions and we should have been at the table, looking at how we are going to deal with these particular situations,” Clarke said.
“They never had permanent employment. They had these contracts that they would renew and renew and renew. One needs to ask, now, what is going to happen to these people and their children? “We will sit and listen to them and we will take information and we will get to the Ministry of the Civil Service to look at the approach to ensure that we have a process similar to what happening in 1991 and what happened in 1982. That is what we are aiming for,” Clarke said.
Meanwhile, the BWU says finding a job will be a tough proposition in the future. BWU general secretary Sir Roy Trotman in his New Year’s message said that given the layoffs in the public service, Barbadians may find themselves challenged to get employment. “We are educating persons but we are not able to find the areas of employment for them. We have a significant challenge where we have several people even with tertiary qualifications and no place where we may engage them,” he said.
He said in such circumstances, the government must understand it was the main employer and it was either “going to employ people and pay them, or you are going to have them unemployed and feed them at the public’s expense in your public institutions, including in your jails”.
Last year, the Stuart administration said that the plan to cut public service jobs would result in the government saving as much as Bds$143 million. It 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,” said Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler.