The umbrella body for trade unions is reporting major fallout from Government’s recent retrenchment programme, with staffing shortages in the public service leading to delayed or late payment of wages and salaries, among other issues.
Dennis De Peiza, general secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), told Barbados TODAY the situation is primarily affecting temporary employees in both the mainstream public service and in statutory entities, some of whom have not been paid for months.
“Most of those who were on the retrenchment programme came from the statutory corporations. However, the mainstream public service is having some fallout with the fact that there’s no hiring in the mainstream . . . Plenty people go home ill or on other leave and there’s no replacement, only in priority situations,” he lamented.
Close to 3,000 workers were laid off by Government earlier this year, including more than 200 at the state-run National Conservation Commission, up to 300 at the National Housing Corporation and over 100 workers from the Drainage Division.
“You [may argue] the 3,000 that have gone home are not in the public service, but you also have to be conscious of the fact that there’s no hiring in the public service,” he pointed out.
“If that is not a part of a problem then, what is? There are people who are retiring every day and [there’s attrition] so there are issues . . . If you are not going to hire, and you’re going to use the same number of people and their roles are going to be expanded, then you have to ask yourself ‘are you able to do the same jobs in the efficient manner that’s required?’ That should give you something to think about. We are well aware of some of the areas where the problems are being felt and I can tell you that it is a real situation and not a gimmick.”
The matter will be discussed next week during CTUSAB’s 10th Biennial Delegates’ Conference.
“We will have to look at this issue and examine it because our members, of course, will bring a lot of information out in terms of the discussion, so we’ll have a better idea as to how serious this matter is. We do know there are some concerns in particular quarters,” De Peiza asserted.
Another concern that has been highlighted by CTUSAB is what it describes as the failure by some ministries, boards of management of public secondary schools, and statutory boards to treat trade unions and staff associations favourably.
The CTUSAB conference officially begins next Thursday at the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union Ltd on Belmont Road, St Michael under the theme, Maintaining a Healthy and Productive Workforce
Several resolutions will also be discussed during the sessions.
While the details of those resolutions have not been released, the general secretary said they relate to unification and trade union solidarity and getting the youth more involved in the union.
“In recent times we’ve had our challenges . . . and we’ve seen similar trends in other parts of the region and beyond, but we are very mindful that what we require is to maintain the integrity of the movement. That has a lot to do with going back to our foundation where all hands were on deck,” he said.
“We will continue to press on in that regard to have solidarity within the labour movement of Barbados and to reach out to all and sundry who . . . meet the requirements for membership of this congress, because that solidarity helps us tremendously in terms of our work at the level of the Social Partnership.”
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