Government must understand it is the main employer and you are either going to employ people and pay them, or you are going to have them unemployed and feed them at the public’s expense in your public institutions, including in your jails.
–– Sir Roy Trotman, general secretary of the Barbados Workers Union.
This is ideation, though reeking of cynicism, paints a clear picture of the circumstance that predisposes our political leaders to finding jobs for people –– at all costs. The irony is this observation of Sir Roy’s should pass as food for thought, or some panacea for the woes the Government now faces, which in large degree was conditioned by this predilection our revered union leader would have cemented for all time.
Of course it is not peculiar to the Barbados Government of being the biggest employer in the land. Governments almost everywhere have the highest salary payments to make in the country; and in these recessionary times such has been an economic burden and a drain on their coffers.
Some observers have repeatedly advised –– even in the United States –– that the “simple solution” to all this national strain is to shrink the government (like reducing Cabinet numbers and other ancillary posts); cut all “nonessential” programmes (the Opposition Barbados Labour Party would decidedly include the Barbados Democratic Labour Party summer camps in these), and let the markedly excess number of employees by government find work in the private sector (which the projected 3,000 or so to be laid off by our Government in the first quarter of 2014 may be successful in doing or not).
Let’s be honest. The Government of Barbados, under both the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party, has been doing a great deal for Barbadians with its health, education and social programmes. Almost every Bajan regards such national welfare as a right –– which ought not to be altered, and certainly not stopped.
Some observers, surely not the majority, argue that the Government has been doing way too much for too long, and that since the sustainability of many of these national free benefits has been called into question, given our precarious economic situation, now would be a good time to diminish or relinquish several of these services –– or have them paid for.
Cutting Government expenditure, they say, by the trimming of jobs, allowing private enterprise to run some of these entities now led and managed by Government, and getting Barbadians off all this freeness –– without their suffering withdrawal symptoms –– could be a boon for jobs outside the public sector, even driving self-employment and ultimately revitalizing the economy, and bringing back confidence, hopefulness, enthusiasm and energy to the Barbadian society.
We do not fool ourselves that the greatest or least of this effort towards national economic recovery will not be uphill. And for any of our leaders –– political, social or religious –– to suggest otherwise is to do great disservice to the populace of Barbados, and to set up a people yearning after the restoration of a comfortable mind and unpressured body for absolute disillusionment.
Like all other God-fearing souls, we acknowledge the will and power of the Almighty; but we hold that it is a tad much when a pastor tells his flock that those possibly facing job loss need do nothing more than “trust in God” –– which is as easily done as said, but in the end not likely to bear fruit if the believer sits around idly awaiting “a miracle”.
We were more impressed with Bishop Dr John Holder’s approach to dealing with the burden that layoffs could bring to their victims living in the Anglican Church parishes. While acknowledging and reminding church worshippers on Old Year’s Night that “God is in control”, the bishop pledged he would instruct his priests to reach out into their own districts to see how they might ease the tribulations of and help bring peace of mind to any of the new jobless.
Stating up front that the Anglican Church would probably not be able to take care of all the needs of all the affected families, Dr Holder promised the church would do its best –– at the very least offer some help in minimizing the negative fallout from being put on the breadline.
It will be heart-warming to see the Anglican Church out in the field again doing its social duties –– as it once was well known for –– bringing its traditional soberness in godly things back to the community. Kudos to Dr Holder!
Naturally, we also commend all the other church leaders who have been playing their part in looking after their members and others in need, and continue to do so.
With austerity measures of a kind being taken in this current economic crunch, hopefully for an improved economy, there is no better time than now to love thy neighbour as thyself, and to be thy brother’s keeper –– sans cynicism!