Many of the public workers laid off in 2014 as part of Government’s austerity programme are now back in the public service, claims Minister of Education Ronald Jones.
In defending the decision to restore the ten per cent which was cut from the salaries of parliamentarians and senior Government officials, Jones Tuesday admitted that the 3,000 public workers who had been sent home as Government moved to reduce the size of the civil service had taken a major blow.
However, he said many of them have been re-employed, although he sought to make it clear the numbers were not back to pre-2014 levels.
“There were people who took a 100 per cent cut in relation to having been severed from their various jobs . . . and I am fully aware that many of them are now back in the civil service,” the minister told his legislative colleagues.
“I congratulate them and all those who made that possible for them to return as vacancies occur, but the [employment] ceiling [has] not being increased in any significant numbers.”
The restitution means Jones and most of his Cabinet colleagues will receive just short of $17,000 a month, inclusive of allowances, according to the Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries (Remuneration and Allowances) Order 2016 tabled in Parliament by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in April last year. Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, who is the de facto Deputy Prime Minister, will receive in excess of $20,000 per month, while Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s salary increases to $203,175.60 ($16,931.30 per month), along with a travel allowance of $54,838.44 ($4,569.87 per month) and official car and residence.
Yet Jones suggested it was difficult to function effectively since the cut, insisting elected representatives were still being called upon to meet the needs of constituents on a reduced salary.
“We surrendered ten per cent of our salary, but the demands still remain the same, or more,” he said.
“I am not here to eat alone. I am here to make it possible that all of us in this country will eat, all of us in this country can share in whatever this country provides.”
Like his fellow ruling Democratic Labour Party representatives, Jones attacked the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) for walking out of Parliament in protest of the restitution, accusing the BLP of giving the impression that parliamentarians were handing themselves a pay rise.
“All I would be receiving once this resolution passes today is a restoration of my salary to what it was some 39 months previously. There is no back pay on this . . . . It does not go back. It was freely given up,” he said.
“This is possibly one of the saddest days of my life.”