PM takes over layoff controversy

Flashback: NUPW auditorium could not hold all the public servants who turned up for last week’s meeting.
Flashback: NUPW auditorium could not hold all the public servants who turned up for last week’s meeting.

Against a background of growing unease in the country, Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart has now taken personal charge of the layoff controversy in the public service.

Responding to reporters’ questions during a tour of the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown, St. James this morning, Stuart suggested he had become personally involved to ensure matters did not get out of hand and that justice was done.

The Government leader revealed that he would be meeting with the head of the Public Service tomorrow to get clarity and make sure persons were not unjustly sent home.

“The Government has not embarked on any programme or any crusade, the purpose of which is to lay off people in the public sector,” he assured.

“What we are on a crusade to do is to increase efficiency in the public sector. I am aware that there have been some howls of protest from persons who got letters telling them that their employment has come to an end.

“I am not sure why this has happened. I mean, let’s be very frank, there are people in the public sector who are temporary employees. When I last checked the dictionary, temporary still meant for the time being,” he added.

“And if you are temporary employee, clearly you have a letter that says that you will be employed from one date to another. And when that date comes therefore and your assignment has come to an end, it has come to an end. This happens whether we are in a situation such as we are in right now in terms of trying to deal with deficit issues and debt issues, or whether we are in a period of prosperity.”

“Now, what I do not want though,” insisted Stuart, “is for this period of dealing with debt and deficit issues, to be so mishandled that people who should not be at the receiving end of letters of this kind, end up with them.

“And therefore to avoid that, tomorrow I am going to be meeting with the Head of the Civil Service, with the Chief Personnel Officer, with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Civil Service and other persons involved in this whole process to make sure that this situation is clarified and to make sure that it is not mishandled. Very important.”

Stuart stressed his administration was not in the business of creating turmoil in Barbadian households, “and keeping people in a state of emotional agitation”.

“That is not the purpose at all. We have some challenges with which we are dealing,” explained the DLP leader. “We have to deal with those challenges firmly. It is a question of firmness of grasp, clarity of course and certainty of port. That’s what it is about. It’s not a question of trying to make people’s lives miserable and to disrupt the equilibrium in Barbadian households.

“So I am meeting with the stakeholders involved tomorrow, so that we can get all these issues settled and that this matter can be humanely and sensibly managed for the benefit of the Government, for the benefit of the workers and for the benefit of the households and businesses of Barbados.”

General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, Denis Clarke, which represents the majority of employees in the government sector, has already said he was treating reports of people being sent home as rumours until he got all the necessary information on the matter as well as clarity on the situation. (EJ)

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