Unions were warned that nothing less than the principle of “last in, first out” was acceptable in retrenching National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers, and there is a call for Minister of the Environment Dennis Lowe to be fired, along with NCC managers.
This caution to the trade unions currently negotiating procedure for layoff of NCC workers, along with the call for senior officers to demit office, came last night when the Barbados Labour Party held a branch meeting in the heartland of where they contend that Democratic Labour Party supporters were the major beneficiaries of the violation of the principle –– Christ Church East.
Against the backdrop of the National Union of Public Workers and Barbados Workers’ Union’s continued negotiation with the Government over alleged violation of the “last in, first out” principle in the laying off of NCC workers, BLP Member of Parliament Kerrie Symmonds gave examples of what he claimed were favouritism to DLP supporters.
He said: “What we are seeing here is the beginning of a politics of tribalism and nepotism . . . and any solution that the union brokers over the next few days is unacceptable if it is a solution that allows for political tribalism and political nepotism to continue in this country.”
Symmonds’ position was supported by Senator Wilfred Abrahams, who cited media reports of a possible compromise of the unions’ stance, and warned that the lid on Bajan patience would blow because the labour representatives were selling them out to Government.
“If we as Bajans can’t bank on the Government, and the employees can’t bank on the unions, then who is looking out for the masses in Barbados? Who is looking out for the workers?” Abrahams asked at the meeting in the St Christopher Primary School.
He continued: “And, you know, it is as simple as this: the people in Barbados will take as much as they can, or as much as they want to, and eventually something is going to snap. If you have no guidance, and security measures are all completely eroded, then we are on a time bomb.”
Symmonds focused on the reasons given by NCC for overlooking the principle of “last in, first out”, such as poor work ethic and abuse of sick leave, saying: “If there is a shred of legitimacy in the argument that some of the people they sending home have a bad work ethic, do you not thing that there should have been a system within the National Conservation Commission that would have identified long ago, not now, that Mr X has a bad work ethic, and that ethic of his, that pattern of behaviour, should not be condoned, and as a result of that he should have been disciplined, not now, but ever since?”
The MP levelled his sights on NCC managers, all who, the MP contended, are political appointees.
“If they failed to put in place and to institute a proper system of management, should those people . . . not be the first to be sent home . . . and shouldn’t the minister who kept them . . . not also be sent home?”
Symmonds spoke to inconsistencies in the NCC’s declared preference to send home workers who abused sick leave.
“In the public domain now is the fact that 60 people at the NCC had a record of being repeatedly on sick leave. Of those 60 only ten are on the list to be sent home; so the other 50 are being retained, don’t mind that they have this bad record of being sick. But you know the other 50 have a special political interest . . . .”