With just over a month to go before the transfer of Customs officers to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) is scheduled to be completed, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) says it is still in the dark on several key issues.
The union is therefore giving the Ministry of Finance until tomorrow to provide it with key information related to the July 1 change over, which was originally set for April 1.
“We want full disclosure of information. That includes information on how the transition is supposed to take place,” NUPW President Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY in an interview this morning.
“That also includes salaries, job descriptions, as well as information on acting appointments,” he added.
The union leader said the NUPW needed to be in a position to properly brief its members, “so that they can make an informed decision before accepting appointments at BRA”.
McDowall also expressed the hope that places would be found in other areas of the public service for those officers who were not accepted into the umbrella revenue collection agency, while pointing out that the Ministry of Finance had given the union a commitment that no one would be made redundant. He also stressed that the NUPW’s position was that there should be no lay-offs.
“We do not want to say that some officers are being disadvantaged at this stage because we do not have any information in our hands,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Just last week, the NUPW’s acting General Secretary Roslyn Smith reported that 279 of the 300 officers currently employed by the Customs & Excise Department would be absorbed into the new entity.
It was not immediately clear what would happen to the other 21 staffers, for whom no places were allocated in BRA.
After meeting with close to 40 of the affected workers last week, Smith had also reported that several matters related to the proposed transition were still outstanding, and that the NUPW was hoping to have a meeting this week with officials of the Ministry of Finance to discuss appointments, supersession, and the impact of the change over on border security, which were top of mind for the workers.
Late last week, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler also commented on the matter. During an interview with Barbados TODAY he called on all parties involved to settle their differences.
“As you can imagine, moving from public sector into statutory entity there are some challenges that would occur, but I am confident that the sides can sit down and work out so that each employee can be given what they are due,” he said then, noting that “the process has always been governed by the basic principle that people should not be placed at a disadvantage over their public sector status” and that “they should transfer to no less favourable [status] than what they are currently at.”