Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been accused of attempting to rile up panic among the membership of the National Union of Public Workers.
General secretary Dennis Clarke told Barbados TODAY that the Opposition MP for St. Peter, who yesterday broke his silence on the retrenchment of some 3,000 civil servants in the New Year and the response of the unions, was misinformed.
Arthur was highly critical of trade unions, saying that they should be in the vanguard of defending workers’ interests at this time. But the NUPW general secretary said in an interview this evening that Arthur did not know what was going on.
“I think the comment isn’t worth a response. I think Mr Arthur knows me quite well, in terms of my work. Obviously he knows that I would have been working on a response. It is just simply that we have not come out in public as yet. [But] it is not a situation where we should do that.
“We are working to put together whatever we are putting together. We have already had meetings set up [and] have already had preliminary talks; so we’re in the vanguard fighting these things. He should know that, but I don’t know if he’s trying to create hysteria among the membership or what but we are steadfast in what we are doing,” Clarke said as he took a break from preparing the NUPW’s position and recommendations to present its membership at a meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. tomorrow.
“The proposal writing exercise is going pretty good. I am here doing that at the moment. I am looking at them now because one would want to be in a position to let the [temporary workers] know what we are doing on their behalf. [S]omehow, some other parts of the media are fuelling this misconception that union is not doing anything and you are also getting that coming from the political directorate,” he suggested.
Earlier this morning, Clarke, along with members of Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) held talks with the Minster of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler.
Those talks were aimed at gaining further clarification on the implications, which accompany Minister Sinckler’s Ministerial Statement on the floor of Parliament last on Friday.
“The meeting [today] could be regarded as informative in that the minister went over some of the ground that he would have covered before. Coming out of this, we will make every effort to see how painless we can make this approach.
“So it is a question of us sitting down and working out what we think can be an alternative to what he has proposed and then meeting with the Ministry of the Civil Service as soon as possible, to see what sort of agreement we can reach,” he told Barbados TODAY. (RG)