Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and other senior members of Government are still intent on getting back the ten per cent pay they lost back in 2014 at the height of austerity.
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) served notice that the matter could have appeared on the official Order Paper as early as today, based on notice given to the Leader of Opposition Business in Parliament Santia Bradshaw.
However, the day’s sitting ended this evening without Government making any such move.
Nonetheless, Opposition Member of Parliament Kerrie Symmonds told reporters the BLP remained dead set against the move.
“We can assure you that if that happens today or indeed if the day dawns when it happens under this Government, we will not be party to it and we will not be present on the scene of that crime because the people of Barbados can’t be asked to walk on a bed of nails, while the Prime Minister rules on a cushion of comfort,” Symmonds told reporters during a press conference at the Opposition Leader’s Office this afternoon at which he was flanked by Bradshaw and other BLP parliamentarians.
The matter has been a sore point between Government and Opposition, as well as other national stakeholders, including the country’s trade unions who last year questioned the timing of the pay restoration for senior officials, given that workers in general had been made to hold strain.
However, if brought before the House it is still likely to win parliamentary approval given Government’s current majority in the 30-seat legislature.
At the height of national debate on the issue last May, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy seemingly added fuel to the proverbial fire by suggesting that he and other senior members of the Freundel Stuart administration should be commended, and not criticized, for taking the ten per cent cut in salaries back in 2014.
“Far from the Government being criticized for any increase, we should be again commended for showing solidarity during the adjustment period,” he said in response to comments by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, who had described the Government’s decision to reinstitute the ten per cent as “political sacrilege of the highest order”, given the wage freeze in the public service and uncertainty facing retrenched workers at the National Conservation Commission (NCC) who at the time were yet to be paid.
However, Sealy was at pains at the time to explain that “we haven’t got any increases, we only restituted what was there before”.
He also had taken a swipe at Mottley, saying, “When we decided to take the cut I don’t remember the Leader of the Opposition or anyone getting up and commending the Government ministers and parliamentary secretaries for taking the decision that we should, in essence demonstrate some sacrifice.
“In fact they [Opposition] were people who publicly said they were against it.”