Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resources Development Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo believes there are lessons to be learnt from the public sector retrenchment exercise, and is promising that the positions taken by all parties involved will be heavily scrutinized.
Speaking in the Senate this evening, the minister also said the ongoing process would be used to inform Government’s employment policies going forward.
“Certainly coming out of it, I intend to look at the desanguinated data to see, in terms of [the] ages and age groups of persons that were retrenched, look at it by gender and so on . . . . That is information that will inform our decisions in the Labour Department and will inform our employment policies,” the minister said.
Byer-Suckoo also decribed the process of sending home 3,000 public officers as a “painful one” which was was nearing its end.
“ . . . I heard a figure of the IMF expecting 5,000 [layoffs], but Government had agreed to a figure of 3,000 and we are nearing that total,” said the minister who has presided over several of the negotiations to date.
“I have seen first-hand the pain that is experienced, the anxiety.
“In the short term, there is that angst, that anxiety, that suffering. We will see an increase in the unemployment rate when the next figures come out and there is some concern in the economy [as] some persons would have less money to spend; but we did agree that in the long run the greater good was for each and every one of us in some way sacrifice to strengthen our economy and to restore growth.”
The minister also told her colleagues that everything was being done to ensure workers were protected and provided for, while noting that the National Insurance Scheme was in a position to pay benefits for another 30 years or so.
“The Ministry of Labour continues to do its part. Right now we are busy in the middle of negotiations with the retrenchments . . . . I have been in many of the negotiations with our agencies who have retrenched persons and others who have made folks redundant.
“The question is what will become of those retrenched persons and other unemployed persons. I want to reaffirm that we are trying to ensure that their rights are protected; that what they are supposed to get in terms of terminal pay and terminal benefits that they do get all that is entitled to them,” she said.