2,500 rehired!

NUPW accuses Government of resetting the layoffs clock

A top union official is claiming that more than 80 per cent of the workers who were recently sent home by the Freundel Stuart administration have been rehired.

As part of spending cuts announced back in 2013, an estimated 3,000 workers were to be sent home, with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler suggesting at the time that the plan to cut public sector jobs would result in Government saving as much as $143 million.

The minister of finance had also said that Government had agreed to institute a “strict programme of attrition” across the central public service, filling posts only where it is absolutely unavoidable, over the next five years, ending 2018-2019.

“This attrition is expected to reduce central government employment levels from approximately 16, 970 to 14,612 jobs – a projected loss of 2,358 posts and savings of $121 million.

“Over the current 19-month adjustment period public sector employment will be reduced by an additional 501 jobs with a projected savings of $26 million,” Sinckler added, while also announcing at the time that the salaries of Government ministers and other political appointees would be reduced by ten per cent.

However, just recently Government moved to Parliament to restore the salaries of the political appointees.

And addressing the opening of the NUPW’s 73rd annual conference last evening, General Secretary Roslyn Smith suggested that the clock hand had also been turned back on public sector job cuts, while warning that Barbadians were being made “perpetual pawns, scapegoats and playthings” of the country’s political leaders.

Smith said Government had severed over 3,000 workers “in the lower rungs of the public sector only”, but had since “gradually and discretely” rehired over 2,500 to date.

Efforts to get Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to respond to that claim today were unsuccessful.

However, a senior Government official this evening rubbished the union’s suggestion, while telling Barbados TODAY that the overall public sector wage bill had been reduced since 2013. The official, who did not want to be identified, also assured that only 1,800 workers were actually sent home over the past three years, while stating that on average 600 workers had retired per year over the same period.

The official however acknowledged that while the baseline salaries of public servants had generally remained the same, provision has had to be made for between $30 million and $50 million per year in increments.

The well-placed Government source also pointed out that the National Conservation Commission (NCC), which was one of the statutory entities hardest hit by the home-grown fiscal consolidation programme, was currently operating below the minimum requirement. In fact, the official said it was currently short of 170 workers as a result of the recent retrenchments, as well as internal sick leave.

This position is totally at odds with that espoused by Smith in her lengthy address last night, in which she acknowledged that relations between Government and her union had soured since 2014. In fact, Smith said the NUPW, which was once viewed as “a darling for agreeing to hold strain and not seek a pay increase for its membership” was now considered not only to be “the worst institution in Barbados”, but also to be “partisan and mad” because it decided “that it cannot morally continue to support Government in this particular regard”.

“Despite the vilifications and distractions the NUPW must believe in the fairness of its case as well as in its strength, “ she said, while asking, “Didn’t Government believe in the fairness and strength of restoring their ten per cent pay?”

She therefore made it clear that while the NUPW was willing to compromise on its current 23 per cent wage demand, a wage cut, as recently suggested by prominent local businessman Andrew Bynoe, was a “non-starter” for the NUPW, even though she said the union saw merit in his recommendation that a portion of the proposed salary increase be paid in Government bonds.

In her wide-ranging, stinging address, Smith slammed Government over its treatment of workers, saying it was ridiculous for the ruling Democratic Labour Party to be demanding more of workers when it had not provided the necessary resources to boost productivity.

She also took aim at the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB), saying it appeared to be “there to satisfy the needs, wants and public relation requirements of Government.

“There are national matters which CTUSAB is better suited to handle or take the lead on, but CTUSAB should have no part in pay increases, NCC terminations . . . it is not a trade union,” Smith said.

The NUPW General Secretary also suggested a need for greater private sector scrutiny, while questioning: “How is it that hotels are allowed unaudited offshore accounts in the form of all-inclusive booking arrangements over which the Central Bank seemingly has no control and only apparently receives foreign exchange crumbs?” 

7 Responses to 2,500 rehired!

  1. Arthur Collymore
    Arthur Collymore March 25, 2017 at 12:34 am

    While I cannot give an estimated figure , the General Secretary is correct. The minister of the Environment have rehired those statutory workers retrenched 2013-14. Dr Estwick sent droves of constituents from St Philip to work at BWA. The Minister of Health is debushing Ch Ch South & PM Stuart St Michael South & this is replicated across other constituencies. Workers employed to clean the country for Barbados’ 50th Anniversary are still employed. Gradually, deceptively, workers were rehired by this DLP admin in a naked bid to be reelected. While hoping to win we know DEM will lose this election. The task of cleaning up after DEM will be made that more difficult.

    Reply
  2. Greengiant March 25, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Arthur Collymore, this same system was use by the other child
    ( BLP) when we had persons cleaning the hiway, vacant lots and houses. Both major parties finds ways to boost employment at the very bottom of the scale when approaching and election and MP’s are allowed some financial slack to do what they want to secure the support of their constituents.

    So you will notice ministers who control health, environmental, water, transport and works will get some slack. They will also help their fellow parliamentarians. I personally see nothing wrong with it because it helps to generate some circulation of finances on the domestic scale. These few thousand people spend this money weekly. The NUPW will have a problem with it because they have lost members, revenue and of course foot soldiers.

    My point here brother is we have an under performing government, probably trying their best. And opposition party doping their best to stifle any foreign direct investment projects in the hope of fast tracking an election at the expense of our economic security. My problem is we need a new government, the opposition seem to want to win so badly that they’re prepared to assist the country to it’s knees to force the government out of office. I am seriously considering coming out and placing myself before the people. Not because I want power, but to expose those who are silently assisting our destruction for the sake of power. The BLP and their paid operatives are now working to block every project that will bring foreign exchange into the country and they are preventing poor barbadians from making money in the process. So while everyone may claim we have an under performing government, truth is we also have a most irresponsible opposition who by their very modus operandi are not fit to lead this country.

    Reply
  3. Kevin March 25, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Ermmm, I thought they and others would be happy that the retrenched workers getting back work. Some Bajans dont know what they want.

    Reply
    • hcalndre March 25, 2017 at 11:50 pm

      @Kevin: The retrench workers did not understand what “temporary” means and should the DLP win the government, they will all be gone again plus many more.

      Reply
  4. Ann Thomas March 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Absolutely nothing to doubt.

    This just shows glaringly the need to get rid of this government. Once again, as silly season approaches, they are prepared to throw Barbados under a bus, so that they can retain power.

    Is it any wonder that we are keeping company with countries like Venezuela, Greece and Ukraine in the economic leagues? No wonder the adamant statements that we will not seek the assistance of the IMF.

    Poor Barbados

    Reply
  5. N Day March 25, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Green Giant, you said a mouthful!

    Reply
  6. Romeo Crowell March 25, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    Green Giant, it is a pleasure to read an article from someone who can see the real state of politics in Barbados.This government has grossly under performed and the lack of communication to the people of Barbados on the issues by the leader is unacceptable.

    On the other hand you have an Opposition that would oppose urgently needed projects at the detriment of the Barbados losing badly needed foreign exchange is unbelievable, Sandals, Sam Lords, Hyatt etc

    When the sandals projects are completed a minimum of a 1000 person will be employed. And in my opinion Sandals played a major role in pulling Barbados out of the low tourism arrival numbers
    How can any real bajan be so political minded that you would destroy the very country that you would like lead, live and raise a
    family.
    I remember a few years back I saw “white” Biizzy, yes Bizzy crying at the podium begging the political parties in this country to work together in the interest of the Barbados

    numbers.
    A true leader will make decisions that

    Reply

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