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Union: Don’t blame us for ‘seat warmers’

 denis clarke

Don’t blame the union, blame successive governments.

That’s the firm response from the island’s largest public sector trade union, the National Union of Public Workers, to concerns expressed by Minister of Commerce and Trade Donville Inniss to the existence of what he called “seat warmers” in management posts in the Government service.

NUPW general secretary Dennis Clarke told Barbados TODAY that he did not have any problems with the “seat warmers” statement by the minister, but wanted him to know the union had nothing to do with the kind of people who were appointed in the public sector or on statutory boards.

When Inniss addressed the official opening of the Super Centre-DaCosta Mannings Retail supercombo-store at Warrens on Wednesday, he suggested the continued reorganization of the island’s institutions and systems to make them “far more nimble, more proactive, customer-focused and cost-centred”.

“This may mean making bold . . . the way in which people are appointed and promoted in both the public and private sectors; it may mean having to take a hard look at some of our key institutions, like the Port Authority, the Water Authority and several others, and how they function. How can we make them more efficient,” he added.

The Minister of Commerce suggested that this “may mean having to engage in some rather robust debates with our workers representatives and helping to pull them well into the 21st century, regardless of their threats”.

“It may mean,” he continued, “a more enlightened management in some key areas, rather than just having seat warmers.”

But the NUPW boss observed that the matter of “seat warmers” was mainly found in statutory entities, where politicians put their own people in management positions.

“I have no difficulty with the ‘seat warmers’ statement by the minister, but the union has no say in employment of ‘seat warmers’. This is largely the situation with statutory boards . . . They [politicians] put them into what position they want,” Clarke asserted.

He is recommending a second look at the Constitution and regulations governing appointments in the Public Service.

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