Sir Roy Trotman did not mince his words in his assessment of last weekend’s layoff of workers at the National Housing Corporation (NHC). In no proper consultation with his Barbados Workers Union (BWU), as promised, the NHC proceeded to cut staff –– ruthlessly at worst,
clinically at best.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth among severed staff made for unbearable scenes for onlookers. Management’s preparatory action and consequent manner of dismissal of workers on the 3,000 list was all wrong, as far as Sir Roy is concerned.
He thought it was the “ugliest picture” he had seen “anywhere at any time” in labour management relations. Surely, in the circumstances, the Wednesday 4:30 p.m. request of a meeting for the following day at 10 a.m. was not kosher. Not when key to the talks was the livelihood and future of workers.
Sir Roy called it “uncouth behaviour”. We say grossly insensitive and uncaring, with a tinge of ignorance.
On the Friday morning of the opening of the Book Of Dismissals, our Prime Minister was fiddling with figures –– or not. He wasn’t too concerned about or with the much talked about numbers of job cuts –– whether they were 30, 300 or 3,000, he would announce to a large group of businessmen. He wouldn’t be caught up in any numbers debate.
He had long lost his fascination with mathematics since leaving Foundation School in the 1960s. If ever there was a heartless statement made by the Prime Minister, it was this one.
We aver that upon reflection, learned and thoughtful as he is, he would have have recognized his flaunted crudity and impercipience, and kicked himself in the butt –– several times.
This is not a time for smart alecs, nor less smart remarks!
It is not a time either to be manipulated and used. Really, there ought not ever be such an occasion. And, we cannot help but applaud Sir Roy’s stand against the pressure that would be brought to bear on his organization.
“There are people in Barbados today [and he doesn’t mean our ePaper] who would have liked to see the leadership of the Barbados Workers Union take not only the Barbados Workers Union, but take the country
to a shutdown . . . .
“We the Barbados Workers Union would be silly if we allow those people who want to use us, . . . to fight their battles and their war . . . .”
Sir Roy has gone on record before as indicating the futility of marching his troops up and down the country on this matter of the layoffs, even while expressing displeasure with some procedures of the Government. He would rather have meaningful dialogue with Mr Stuart and company and seek to mitigate where possible the agony and heartache of dismissal, or offer, where practical, alternatives.
In so far as layoffs are concerned, all Sir Roy and the BWU want are “to be able to discover what the plan of the employer [is], and what we might be able to do to offer appropriate solutions to vary that plan to bring the least amount of suffering to the greatest number of people, because our policy is that we want in everything we do, to bring the greatest good to the
Mr Dennis Clarke and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) have pretty much declared that they are on the same page as Sir Roy. They have already declared that they will not be engaging any of their members of the proposed 3,000 Government workers who will lose their jobs in any strike, other industrial action or march. Mr Clarke sees no point in it, nor, as we have said before, do we.
It seems to us that it would be more beneficial helping those displaced to seek alternative enrolment or contracting, or establish self-employment; or for as long as is practical helping the jobless along as a good neighbour should. And only last week NUPW president Walter Maloney officially announced the setting up of a Retrenchment Committee to assist public sector workers
Said Mr Maloney: “The responsibility of the Retrenchment Committee is to look at ways to see how we can get these folks together, see what their skills are and how best we can be able to channel them into particular areas.”
Most essential right now is placating the fallout which will be suffered by those who become unemployed at this time. Marching will not do that.
We make no excuse for any failings of the Government, but we see no good to anyone from the mayhem that the angered political scientists, partisan commentators and rogue church ministers among us would like to foment.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
–– John 14:27.