Barbadians have been put on notice to brace themselves for “chaos” and labour unrest if contentious matters regarding customs officers were not addressed satisfactorily.
The country’s largest public sector trade union issued the threat this morning following a meeting with customs officers on the terms and conditions of service being offered by the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) complained that some workers who were qualified for vacant posts were being overlooked without good reason and he demanded that it was time the “madness” be dealt with.
“If it is not arrested, I am saying to you, we could see serious chaos within this country and unrest if this madness does not stop. The union will do everything in its power to stop this madness that is happening across the service,” a passionate Wayne Walrond, senior industrial officer at the NUPW, warned.
Walrond revealed that the union had written both the Personnel Administration Division and the Ministry of Civil Service twice before, seeking an audience to discuss the matter, but had not received any response.
He said a third letter was dispatched recently and he hoped that commonsense would prevail this time and its correspondence would be acknowledged, otherwise the union would be forced to take action.
“It cannot continue. This is madness in the public service. This is absurdity. And really, I am appalled that no one has seen it fit to deal with these officers,” Walrond said.
Another point of contention, the trade unionist complained, was the reversion of some officers and the accompanying reduction in salaries. Walrond added that this would lead to loss of dignity and self-worth because these officers would become junior to persons they once supervised.
“They have to go for counselling. It is a situation where you are mentally breaking these persons. It seems that no one cares and the union is concerned about this process. The process is flawed. It must stop; it must be arrested,” he insisted.
The union representative added that the customs officers had raised concerns about a lack of transparency and fairness in the filling of positions in that department where the recruitment and employment code was causing “gross injustice” and discomfort to officers.
“Persons would have been selected to an interview for custom officer one but also having applied for custom officer two the persons were not selected. They are saying there is a contentious issue here.
“They are also stating that they have the qualification requirement for the post in addition to acting in the post for several years and have not received even an acknowledgement,” he explained.
Walrond noted that according to the Public Service Act, a post should not be vacant for more than one year unless it was frozen by the Minister with responsibility or if permission was sought by the Governor General.
“Therefore we are saying that persons who have been in those post for several years have a right to be appointed based on their competency and being suitably qualified.
“We are also contending that legally you cannot treat a posts as vacant where a person has been sitting in the post for several years and therefore it should not be treated as a post to advertised,” he warned.