Dangerous road!

NUPW warns Govt not to take a capitalist approach

Ahead of the May 30 National Budget presentation, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has sounded a stern warning to Government that the island’s public servants are already at the point of saturation.

Therefore, the union says, now is not the time to be piling on any more taxes on Government workers, who it also described as overburdened.

“The public servants of Barbados were among the depositors of the credit unions who were taxed [and] we are playing a dangerous game with the social fabric of this country if we do not understand that the public service is currently saturated,” NUPW President Akanni McDowall said in a written statement to Barbados TODAY Thursday evening.

He further cautioned that the very social fabric that has held the society together stood to be destroyed, with some workers now faced with a choice of “feeding their families, buying medication or paying their commitment for their shelter” and already vulnerable to corruption.

“They are amenable to ‘cutting corners’ where there is opportunity to recover some of their displaced income. When a country reaches that point it is precariously perched and could lose the credibility and order a functioning society needs,” he said.

The NUPW leader was reacting to recent comments made by the Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Charles Herbert, who was also a member of the Fiscal Deficit Committee recently convened by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to advise him on the way forward for the floundering economy.

One of Herbert’s key suggestions to Stuart is that further austerity cannot be avoided as his Government seeks to dig itself outside of a worrying hole that in economic terms redounds to a deficit of six per cent of GDP.

The Stuart administration has also been struggling to build back up the island’s dwindling foreign reserves which plunged to $681.1 million, or 10.3 weeks of cover at the end of last year, with only a slight recovery achieved up to March this year.

At the same time, Government’s overall debt, which requires servicing to the tune of over $300 million annually, remains high at 105.4 per cent of GDP.

With this in mind, the NUPW agrees that urgent remedial action is needed.

However, it is adamant that the burden of austerity must be equally spread around.

“We also believe that we should be careful that any measures we take as a country to save the economy of Barbados do not cost us the society of Barbados,” McDowall stressed.

He further cautioned Government against adopting the “capitalist” approach to economic problem solving, which views labour as “an input expense”.

“This expense is always seen as one of the most and easily adjustable variables in economic downturn. That however, is not the view of the matter which the trade union movement has.

“Labour in our reality is mothers and fathers charged with providing shelter and clothing for future generations. Labour is mortgagees who have commitments to various financial institutions. Labour is the bedrock of demand and the crux of what keeps an economic system turning over,” the NUPW president explained.

While acknowledging that streamlining and rationalization could bring about needed savings and that spending cuts must be made, McDowall further warned Government against going down the road of profit making at the sacrifice of workers, saying it would only yield deleterious results.

“In other words, we create a toxic and cyclic conundrum which further engulfs our country,” he said.   

While calling on Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to stay true to policies that provide protection for people as a vital element of a functioning Barbadian society, the union reiterated its call for a pay increase for public servants, who have not been given a pay since 2008.

“We ask that research and reality guide the decisions to be made, and most of all, we call for open and continuous dialogue with all stakeholders,” McDowall said.

7 Responses to Dangerous road!

  1. jrsmith May 19, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Isn’t it time we the masses in barbados , having answers from our politicians who always give themselves pay rises for they failure , and imposes regular tax burdens and budgetary proposals on the poor people..( the masses as lambs to the slaughter )…. but seeing how the 1% is always way out in-front …………….
    We must all ask a question , why such a small island as barbados have such politically large infrastructure , what do these people do , we would want to see they work programme and the audits to support why they are there…………………………………………

  2. Alex Alleyne May 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

    The 1% is always out front due to the fact that they do have the economic head start from way back. Until the 98% believe and put self first , we will always be the faces at the bottom of the well.

  3. joan Worrell May 19, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Let me start by saying that I support an increase in salaries for public workers . However, I am not an economist so I can’t say how it can be done without (a) an increase in taxation or (b) laying off workers. What I do know is that lowering the cost of living would go a long way in helping the public servants in meeting their day to day expenses. We have a dishonest bunch of economists in Barbados who never educate the public on how to lower the cost of living . You know why? They no longer want to be part of the middle class. They want to be seen as a cut above the rest. Their children no longer attend Government Nursery and Primary schools. They no longer shop at Jordan’s , Popular, Channel etc. . Check them out wearing three piece suits from morning till night. They must have a round of golf on evenings. They must have breakfast and lunch at the expensive restaurants and carry home a fast food meal for the family dinner. Wait, I forgot the two 4×4 big drives parked outside the house? Then you have their professional friends, the lawyers and doctors. Before you step into their offices, you must take out a loan from the credit union to pay them for services. Don’t think about getting free (paid for by the taxpayers) surgery at the Q.E.H in any hurry. You must sell your house and land to have private surgery. And then there is the private sector which wouldn’t stop gouging because we must eat and wear their expensive products. We have forgotten how to separate our needs from our wants. We no longer encourage our youngsters to eat a little ”ground food ” once a week, a little black belly “” mutton soup” once a week, a little meal cou-cou or breadfruit cou-cou when breadfruits are in season. There is no more baking a pound pudding for the children’s lunch pack. They must have fast food and imported crap all day long. Yes, Bajans like their curtains but they can’t buy them from the ”Curtain man”” who is always on tv advising Government how to save foreign currency. Why is he selling his panels of curtains for 4 times the price of a panel in Trinidad or St. Maarten? What do you expect when you go to the vegetable market on weekends or the fish market? These people have to put up the same curtains as the economists and their professional friends. Gone are the days of bag blinds. As a consequence, we are paying a dollar for a flying fish, 8 dollars a pound for dolphin, marlin, albacore etc. , 4 dollars per pound for a paw paw, 2 bananas for a dollar, 3 dollars a pound for limes, 3 dollars a pound for rotten sweet potatoes, 4 dollars a pound for white yam and horror continues. We are living in a vicious circle. Don’t expect BBBBB , DDDDDD,, EEEE or IIIII Party to correct this high cost of living in your lifetime . The politicians, the economists/ other professional people, the private/business sector aren’t going to lift a finger to help.

    • Jennifer May 19, 2017 at 11:12 am

      @Joan Worrell – agreed – You have really sliced that thick distasteful cake. What you are outlining in a nutshell is the development of some house negros (up in massa big house) who as usual do not give a $hit, about the ones at the bottom (help make them $hyte). Mind you all it takes is for a bed of sickness and a house fire to bring that lot to their knees. Nothing in this country will ever change by the way of spending or economic wealth for the MAJORITY when this people remain spending the same. The government can see this and continues their onslaught of taxation on the sitting ducks. This people (believe it or not) was BRAINWASHED and trained to spend like this. While all the 1% those other people living among them to cash in like their personal ATM’s. No wonder we are also laden in every disease in the book. But that is another conversation. Then we got two political parties who are way pass their sell buy dates or expired doing absolutely nothing for them, just following their ORDERS. If a small group of people with little money can pool together and build vast stores over time and prosper, then this large group could do the same, but not a chance as the brainwashing and self hate is too strong. This people was trained to stay separated, hate their own and go into the others stores and bedrooms and support those who is living among them. Then beg for crumbs. All of the politicians BEE, DEE, ETC, and the 1%, are all sitting at the same big table eating together. And any kind of change to this current state will result in a Venezuela type situation. With the big mommy coming in to help her children.

  4. Helicopter(8p) May 19, 2017 at 10:27 am

    I find it graciously humane; if the people’s representatives and ministers of portfolios would desist and resist taking any form of salary increase until the country has been brought back to sound economic sustainability. Public workers should be cautioned on this very important matter and desist rubbing salt into an open wound!

  5. Milli Watt May 19, 2017 at 11:05 am

    we create a toxic and cyclic conundrum which further engulfs our country………..and which you the trade union benefit. A saturated public service rquates to subs being paid to the union and your ability to pay the top level wages and the purchase of Audi and mercedes for de other union. I agre WE ALL CREATED THIS AND ALL OF US WILL PAY. I can’t wait for pay back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. joan Worrell May 19, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Milli Watt, yuh sweet fuh days. And what about the Chairman of every Board, head of every Government department, every judge, every Government department with four security guards on each floor, the big drives delivering mail from one department to the other 100 yards away, the per diem paid to Ministers to fly all over the world first class? Have you heard that either Party cut any of those expenses since the days of Errol Barrow and now? Do you believe that either one will do it in the future? No way Jose. It is a status which they must enjoy while in the House of Assembly for the period for which they are elected. Tell them they lie when the promise to be different. Vote for your friend and hope that a little bit of what he/she enjoys can be personally shared with you. lol. Forget Party. They are all liars.


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