by Roy R. Morris
Barbadians are about to get their first hint of how the Freundel Stuart Government intends to tackle its huge and growing financial headache.
Barbados TODAY learnt this evening that when the top brass of the state-run Transport Board met with Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley today a decision was taken that all workers would be placed on a three-day work week.
Additionally, sources revealed that while managers would continue to work the normal hours, they would voluntarily take a one-week pay cut each month.
What has not been ascertained is how soon the pay reduction programme would come into effect. However, one Government source said that the board was determined to hold the jobs of workers secure as long as possible and therefore the approach of reduced hours was the preferred option to payoffs.
In the meanwhile, the Transport Board has also taken a decision that it could achieve significant savings while at the same time vastly improving efficiency by farming out more of its repair and maintenance work to Simpson Motors.
According to the source, the board has already initiated discussion with Simpson Motors, the agents for Mercedes Benz, now the supplier of its entire fleet of buses.
According to sources, Barbadians employed in other statutory corporations such as the National Conservation Commission and the Barbados Water Authority are also expected to come face to face with similar wage reduction approaches within the coming days.
However, union sources said there were still real fears that the more than 3,000 temporary workers on the central government payroll could be faced with direct layoffs.
Just last week Opposition Barbados Labour Party Economic Adviser, Clyde Mascoll, the jobs of public sector workers would be in jeopardy if Government pursued the $400 million fiscal adjustment recommended by the Central Bank of Barbados.
“It is clear that there has been a shift in Government policy in the post-election period that has to be explained to the public,” Mascoll said. “The fiscal adjustment being pursued represents sending home public sector workers.
“This will not correct the fiscal crisis as expected since the Government is also planning to spend more on capital projects. The reason for the expenditure switching has to be explained as well as the size of the proposed cuts.
“Discovering that the country’s foreign reserves declined by $200 million in the second quarter could not be the trigger for the $400 million fiscal adjustment being recommended and agreed to by the Government of Barbados.” [email protected]
by Roy R. Morris