Workers broke down in tears, some too distraught to even consider leaving the office, as they struggled this afternoon to cope with being laid off by Government.
Their colleagues who escaped being among the first batch of public sector workers to be sent home, attempted to console them even as they themselves cried.
That was the emotional scene at the Warrens Office Complex this afternoon as National Housing Corporation (NHC) employees, some of them single mothers, began receiving their green papers just after 2 p.m. The president of the National Union of Public Workers, Walter Maloney, later confirmed that a total of 300 NHC workers were sent home today as the Freundel Stuart administration began instituting its retrenchment programme that will see an overall 3,000 workers being sent home.
Single mother Daile Sutton, who has three of her four children living with her, received a pay slip of around $1,651.
“I am the only breadwinner in my house and I have my kids to send to school and deal with my big son ’cause he ain’t working, and its real, real hard. I ain’t know what to do. They shoulda leave me on the block, lemme stay on the block because I wouldn’t owe nobody nutten: the bank, nobody,” she told Barbados TODAY outside the Warrens office.
Saturday would have marked six years since Sutton began working with the NHC.
She said almost everyone in her department was given walking papers.
She voiced anger and frustration about the way the terminations were handled, stating that letters were delivered by an official accompanied by “the police”, while the manager and the person in charge of human resources were no-shows.
“I really disappointed in the Prime Minister and Chris Sinckler because they know me so well that I thought I got my job. I worked so hard for election and they treat me like a real dog on the streets. They can’t get another vote from me. I done with them for life.”
Rosemary Brathwaite was clearly stunned when she received her envelope containing her $1,000 pay slip and letter of termination.
“Dem t’ings ain’t right,” said the 56 year-old, who worked with Government for eight years. “[I have to] go home and see if I can find something else to do.”
She explained being the only breadwinner in her home, which she shares with her mum, daughter and three grandchildren.
Mother of six Sandra Hope said she was at a loss how to support her six children with her mum being the only person now working in her household.
“It’s a shock because I got six boys. The only person working now is my mother and it’s going to be real hard now, because I used to help she pay the bills. It’s going to be real hard now on me and my children, because I still have children going to school and I have a little boy who is five years old, and the next one going skills training. So it’s going to be really hard on me now,” said the former NHC worker.
In a direct message to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, she stated: “They said not a single one was going home. Remember that? That was a speech they made. But how many gone home now?”
With his son requiring surgery for hernia, a process that was delayed due to lack of funds, the situation is even more urgent for Jamal Forde, who is receiving $914.
He tried to remain calm in the face of the bad news.
“I aint quarrelling. I got an old car I just going to sell when I ready and keep the money until I get a job. That’s all I could do,” he said.
Asked if he had a message for the Prime Minister, the St Philip resident said if he spoke his mind, he would be arrested.