The island’s largest public sector trade union has hit back at Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Devlopment Donville Inniss over his recommendation for the sending home of public workers.
This morning, Inniss blamed what he said was the large and unwieldy size of the public service on the structural inefficiencies in the economy, suggesting that a reduction was long overdue.
But general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, Dennis Clarke, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that Inniss should ask himself who had created what the service had come to.
Clarke said that instead of the minister and others running off and saying send home workers, they should carefully examine the potential economic fallout and how such a move would affect the social flow and fabric of a vulnerable and open economy like Barbados.
“It is the duty of the Government to find employment, particularly for our young people, so as to prevent a social mess. If the Government does not do it, who then will? Where in the private sector can these jobs be provided. He [Inniss] is asking for a new form of gigolos and an underground economy with no exports. What is going to happen to all those young people who come out of university with degrees?” the NUPW leader asked.
Clarke suggested that Barbados needed to get its exports up, and should pay a lot more attention to manufacturing and agriculture.
He told Barbados TODAY the public service had to employ more people because the private sector did not pick up the slack coming out of the 1990s structural adjustment.
“Successive Governments have increased the size of the public service. I know there is talk about downsizing. But how far can you downsize? What is the economic fallout, and how will it affect the social fabric of a country like Barbados. I can’t agree with Donville; he is not being fair. The political directorate has created this situation and they need to sit down and carefully examine the issue and discuss it before making any decision,” asserted Clarke.
Just last week, chairman of the Private Sector Association of Barbados, John Williams, gave his backing to any move by Government to send home workers in the public service. However, Williams and president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Lalu Vaswani, made it clear that any layoffs in the Government sector did not mean the business community would automatically do likewise.
They were responding to earlier comments by University of the West Indies economist Professor Michael Howard and economic advisor to the Commonwealth Secretariat, Travis Mitchell, that Government had no other options but to send home workers, and that such an action may be a cue for the private sector to follow suit. (EJ)