Who will go next?

Fears mounting among Barbadian workers, says official

As Government’s retrenchment exercise continues and fear mounts among Barbadians that the private sector could follow suit, the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB) is holding out hopes for the best and is encouraging workers to start upgrading their skills.

President of HRMAB, Glenda Gilkes, said while the association anticipated some ripple effects from the Government retrenchment programme, she was encouraging employees to take advantage of any available opportunity to maximise their chances of being employed or starting their own business.

“Where you have a mass situation like the one we have where the numbers put out were 3,000, certainly in a small community like Barbados that will have an effect on people. It is never a pleasant thing to do whether it is one person or 100, because at the end of the day you are saying to that person that their earning capacity is cut,” said Gilkes.

Although she could not speak specifically to how widespread layoffs was likely to be in the private sector over the coming months, Gilkes told Barbados TODAY she knew companies would occasionally look for ways of “re-engineering their business and how they can make things more efficient”.

“You have the issue of automation versus manual processes and I know of course too, if a substantial number like 3,000 people are laid off then it is going to have a ripple effect. So while we are hoping that things will not go downhill there is a tension that it will have a ripple effect. Everybody is waiting and watching,” acknowledged Gilkes, adding that she could understand if there was a fear among people wondering if they would be next to go home.

“We don’t know and we can never always know for sure who is doing [layoffs in the private sector]. Some people may do two or three people at a time so that would not make a news headline like the Government would,” she added.

Gilkes therefore called on all Barbadians to keep upgrading their skills by taking advantage of the various training funds and opportunities. This, she said, would put them in a position to always be employable, or if employed, it would make them be in a better position to start their own business if they were laid off.

“For the employers you may like to see how you can employ those skills across the board. So even though you may have a reduction in particular areas you may be able to absorb that person in another area. So look at those things first before you make that final decision,” said Gilkes.

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