St George South MP Dwight Sutherland Tuesday accused the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration of creating “mayhem and chaos” in the public service by appointing its “friends and family to posts” as he delivered a stinging contribution to debate on the Public Service (Teachers) Order 2016.
Describing the resolution as nothing more than “window dressing” to secure a third term in power, he warned that the island’s civil servants were awake and would deal with the Government, which had caused them nothing but grief.
“Don’t think that when you come into this honourable House after destroying the morale, treating them with disdain, creating rancour and malice and bitterness among the public servants that they are going to forget . . . and that bringing this resolution before the House, that they are going to jump and say, ‘yes that we are going to give the DLP a third term’,” he said.
Insisting that the issue of appointment was not limited to the teaching service, Sutherland charged that public servants across the system were “demoralized”, citing problems within departments including the Public Administration Division and Customs.
“We have Customs officers that have been acting three levels above their clerical posts for years. We have persons that have been appointed to those acting posts who never graced that service with minimum years in Customs.
“Mr Speaker, it’s in the Public Administration Division, some of it is occurring within in the tourism sector too. Members that have been acting, that have not been appointed and then you have people who come after superseding the members that don’t have the qualifications either.”
Minister of Education Ronald jones, in leading debate on the resolution, announced that 239 teachers would be appointed this year at the primary and nursery level, bring the full complement of teachers in the Government system to 2830.
However Sutherland questioned whether those appointments were “merit based”, drawing strong rebuke from Government benches.
“This Democratic Labour Party is appointing friends and family to posts in the public service. We must safeguard against this . . . all sorts of cronyism and nepotism, Mr Speaker.”
The Barbados Labour Party member claimed that Government had gone as far as to create instability within the ranks of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), citing the recent motion of no-confidence brought against President Akanni McDowall.
“Card carrying members of the Democratic Labour Party were seeking to create that instability among the NUPW . . . . but you know that the no-confidence motion against the young man was defeated. I am asking the DLP to be fair, do not push your unfair agenda down the throats of public servants and the people of this country,” he said.
Sutherland called for systems and structures in the public service to be overhauled to create an environment of productivity and efficiency.
“Our public servants are demoralized and they are tired of struggling with inadequate rules and procedures.
“We need to restructure the entire system so that our public servants feel a sense of gratitude, a sense of belonging, a sense of respect and motivated so that they can deliver,” he said.