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Walter backs Worrell

Walter Maloney

President of the National Union of Public Workers, Walter Maloney believes that foreign prescriptions aren’t always better than home-grown remedies.

Throwing his support behind Central Bank Governor Delisle Worrell on his stance with the International Monetary Fund, the trade union leader is calling on that labour movement to do the same.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning he said it was no longer acceptable that people in Europe and North America decided the fate of thousands of people in this region.

“We need to respect our local, home grown scholarships and expect that when we have issues like this we need to find our own solutions instead of going to these international agencies and having solutions thrown down our throat and we’re supposed to swallow them left, right and centre, whether they’re working or not working for us. We’ve got people in Europe deciding our fate,” he said.

“You’re telling me that after 50 years of free secondary education, and we have a number of people around here that we’re not willing to accept their scholarship in any area, whether economics, medicine or whatever. You’re telling me that they can’t come up with a solution to whatever problems we’re in? I have a difficulty with that. Who’s to say that whatever [IMF Managing Director Christine] Legarde says is correct,” Maloney added.

Legarde has suggested that countries such as Barbados could improve productivity and competitiveness through currency devaluation or what she called “internal devaluation”.

The NUPW executive added: “We have proof within the Caribbean that it doesn’t work. We saw the devaluation in Jamaica in the 1990s. This is 2012 and Jamaica is still in the clutches of the IMF. Guyana is the same thing. Trinidad managed to escape because of their oil and yet still I’m hearing these failed policies coming up again and asking that countries in the Caribbean start to look at them. What are they?

“[The IMF said] we continue to look at privatisation, Government needs to get out of particular areas of development and place them in the hands of the private sector. Now tell me, if we say that Government right now carries a wage bill for 29,000 people given what is happening in this economy, and let’s say 5,000 of those persons were to lose their jobs, whether because of restructuring or privatisation, do we have a private sector in this country that is going to absorb those numbers? That’s the question I’m asking that nobody wants to answer.”

The trade union executive noted that he was “so proud” of Worrell’s position and of that fact that he was “willing to stand up in a forum like that and say to the managing director of the IMF that your policies are failed policies and that they inflict hardship on people”.

“I am extremely proud to know that he said that and that this country can throw up a person whose scholarship must be respected. I know that the labour movement in this country would have to support his position because clearly when the IMF team came to Barbados their position was that bus fares would have to rise, that Government should get out of things like education and health, that these are things for the private sector.

“We know that once the private sector becomes involved in [those sectors] the whole notion of free secondary education gone through he window, the whole notion of free health care gone through the window.

“Working class people would now not be able to afford the things that seem common to them, if you don’t have money God help you. Children will not go to school, so the idea is to push back the gains we would have made over the last 50 to 60 years. That is what this is all about,” Maloney said. (DS)

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