The laying off of 32 employees of the Barbados Water Authority today raised questions about whether Government had instituted a state-wide retrenchment programme.
One of the workers affected told Barbados today that all those sent home had been employed by the authority to keep its 50-odd reservoirs and pumping stations around the country free of bush, and questioned what would happen with the up-keep of these facilities, especially since the island was in the midst of the rainy season.
He explained that on Monday the workers were told that yesterday would have been their last, and when they sought to find out what would happen afterward they were not given any answer.
Consequently, with the backing of the Barbados Workers Union they met this morning with management, but were no wiser on their future when the meeting ended.
He said that while they were casual workers, in the past they were generally sent home for specific periods, but always with some idea of when they would be returning.
“We were told today that we would have to wait until the board meets next week to find out if or when we will be returning,” the worker said. “But we have bills to pay like everyone else and this is not right.”
He added: “Given the length of time we have been working, we qualify for vacation pay, but they have sent us all home and have said nothing about that. That can’t be fair.”
In Parliament this afternoon, Opposition MP for St. Joseph, Dale Marshall, noted that during his Budget presentation Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said the Government would only send home workers as a last resort. He questioned whether the country had in fact reached the “last resort” stage. (RRM)