There’s no need to worry about being sent home.
That is the assurance which the National Union of Public Workers gave to public servants this morning, with the possible exception of those hired as substitutes, particularly in statutory bodies.
In its first formal response to the cost-cutting measures announced 29 days ago in the budgetary proposals by Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, Acting General-Secretary of the NUPW, Roslyn Smith, told a news conference at its Dalkeith Road, St. Michael headquarters, that there was no need for public workers to panic.
Smith, who shared the news conference with President Walter Maloney, said that in the first place, no head of department had been given any directive from the Personnel Administration Division to terminate anyone, and secondly, if heads did the necessary analyses within their sections, no employee should have to be retrenched.
“What is pertinent, there is no freeze on appointments. We are saying persons who qualify at 2004 or before, who would normally be appointed under the Public Service Act and they have no post, they would be treated as being appointed. So they would not be affected,” she pointed out, adding that, where the post was being filled, it first had to be advertised as required by law.
“In case of substitutes, we are saying that there are two votes, the 101 and 102; and whenever possible, persons would have to make some kind of adjustments. Some persons may be asked to reduce their vacation leave. Instead of four weeks, two weeks, because, obviously, you cannot hire substitutes and those already in the system, obviously, should be allowed to continue work,” the acting general-secretary suggested.
“We see really no need to panic, because if the heads of the departments make the necessary analyses, we recognised that there’s no need for persons to go home.”
Smith said the NUPW was pleased that about half dozen departments had already ruled out placing anyone on the breadline.
“We are heartened … they have about five or six departments that have said they have already done this analysis and there is no need to layoff anyone,” the senior union official revealed.
Noting that the analyses were continuing, Smith said she hoped to hear other department heads singing the same song.
“We have 19 months ahead of us to ensure that persons will continue to be employed. We are looking at the first seven months, between now and the end of the financial year, to see exactly how these measures will take effect.”
She told the Freundel Stuart Administration that while it was introducing measures to contain spending and wastage, it must at the same time, put a structure in place to ensure it collected the necessary revenue from entities owing value added and other taxes, and national insurance.
While President Maloney reinforced Smith’s pronouncement that public workers need not worry about being laid off, he expanded on the fate of substitute workers. Maloney told reporters while he was not concerned about the well-being of appointed employees and the temporary ones acting in established posts, he was worried over the replacement workers.
His anxiety was more acute for those attached to statutory boards, where he indicated that the layoff process may be less transparent than in central government. As a result, the union president said he would be sending a letter to the Prime Minister by the end of this week, requesting the establishment of an independent oversight committee, which would seek to ensure statutory boards managed and executed their cost-cutting initiatives properly and with transparency.
Maloney is proposing that the committee comprise at least two permanent secretaries and union representatives. (EJ)