The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is not backing down from its position that Customs officers must not sign Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) option forms unless a number a vexing issues are settled.
In fact, the NUPW’s Acting Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond is advising the officers to ignore the October 1 deadline set by BRA for the transition to the revenue collections agency.
Walrond said the officers’ concerns had resonated and there was a commitment by the authorities to engage and address these concerns before moving forward.
“It is only obvious if there is a commitment to engage on the issue, a deadline can’t be part of the consideration until the issues have been resolved,” Walrond said.
Among the issues that remain unsettled are the filling of a number of positions and the appointment of clerks who had been acting as Customs officers for a number of years.
“We have observed that steps have been taken to fill the Customs Officer 1 positions but quite a few are still vacant and we want them filled. In addition you have clerks acting as Custom officers for years and they should be appointed in a Customs Officer 3 position. You can’t just use the clerks like that,” the trade unionist insisted.
Walrond acknowledged that some officers might have signed option forms. However, he told Barbados TODAY the majority of the officers who remained were squarely behind the union.
Meanwhile, the longstanding NUPW representative had strong words for those who he accused on seeking to vilify Customs officer, while wanting to maintain a corrupt system.
“Now when people use the word corruption and when they come through Customs, they don’t object when they get an ease with their goods. They don’t talk about corruption then. When somebody makes a phone call to somebody influential that then puts pressure on customs to exempt them from duty, they don’t talk about corruption. Everybody that comes through Customs would like to bring their goods and be exempted from any kind of duty. Everybody want things for free and nobody want to pay tax and then you want to label these officers as corrupt,” an impassioned Walrond told Barbados TODAY.
He argued that there was little evidence to suggest that state-run corporations were more effective than the civil service.
“Are you satisfied that that the QEH is running more efficiently? Are you satisfied with public transport or any other entity that has gone to a board [is more effective]?” questioned the trade unionist.