The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) wants the Freundel Stuart Government to take retrenchment of public servants off the table, even as it struggles to find a palatable national solution to its worrying fiscal deficit and dwindling foreign reserves.
General secretary Dennis Clarke said the union had made its position quite clear in meetings two weeks ago with the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Central Bank Governor
Dr Delisle Worrell.
“We did not accept the whole approach to layoffs because
we believe that the workers, as promised, should not be laid
off in the public service; and that is basically our position in the whole matter. They [Government] have to find alternatives at this point in time when all over the world we see public servants are being taken advantage of. They are bearing the brunt
of the burden in this economic crisis,” Clarke told
There has been mounting speculation that at least 3,000 Government workers could be soon be on the breadline from as early as January next year. However, Clarke would neither confirm nor deny that any such figure was discussed in the
recent meeting with the top officials. He would only say that that the NUPW would do all it could to prevent widespread layoffs
in the Government service.
“If that is the figure, and I am stressing if, it means then that for this 3,000, you will need to multiply that by three. You are affecting at least three mouths in every household, and then you have to look at the ripple effect in the private sector. That is why we are waiting to meet with the Ministry of Civil Service
to hear then what is the real position with this whole question of layoffs.
“That is why on Thursday we will raise the matter with the Min istry of the Civil Service. This is our regular meeting where we will want to hear [Government’s] real position. Our real bargaining partner is the Ministry of Civil Service. I am not saying the parties that we [the NUPW] would have met with [Sinckler and Worrell] are lying, but when the Civil Service is coming to the bargaining table, they have to come to us with something realistic that we can sit down and discuss,” he explained .
Clarke’s comments came as one Government spokesman
reported that the Stuart administration was busy fine-tuning arrangements for the likely cuts. The official, who did not wish to be quoted , also refused to be drawn into any discussion about an overall retrenchment
figure, but he said the current emphasis was on “consolidating” lease arrangements, cleaning. security and other “significant” administrative costs.
Mention was also made of
getting the union to agree to a freeze of increments, but Clarke said that had not been put on the table in discussions with Sinckler and Worrell.
In any event, he said, that was
not a matter for consideration by
the union, which had come
up with its own “mini-budget” for public servants.
“When the time is appropriate
we will put it on the table for consideration by the Ministry of the Civil Service, but those things will stay close to our chests until we have had
Asked if there was a figure for layoffs that the union would be comfortable with, Clarke responded saying “not one”.
He however refused to be drawn into talk about a possible devaluation of the Barbados dollar should Government delay any further the needed expenditure cuts. He also refused to comment
on the union’s response should the Government
proceed with any layoff plan, which also comes amid a visit by a team from the International
“I dont want to see it get to that stage in this
country,” he said.