Government is being accused of practicing “legalized victimization” with the introduction of revised qualifications for public servants.
Under the Public Service (Qualifications) Order 2016 published last December, the educational requirements for civil servants have been upgraded, with some senior posts now demanding a postgraduate degree, a change from the minimum undergraduate degree previously required.
This has not gone down well with General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union (UWU) Caswell Franklyn, who views the charges with suspicion.
Having introduced tuition fees at the University of the West Indies for Barbadians seeking first degrees, the Freundel Stuart administration now wants to ensure only certain individuals get Government jobs, the trade unionist claimed.
“This was done so that the people they wanted to fill the posts would have the qualifications and there would not be a problem,” Franklyn told Barbados TODAY.
The union boss questioned what would happen to those who were in line for promotion under the previous order, but who did not qualify under the revised conditions.
For example, he said there were teachers who had the qualifications to be deputy principal and were awaiting interviews, but were then rendered ineligible by the changes.
“If I am qualified now, you cannot change it and stop me from being qualified to my disadvantage. Those people should have been given, not a month or two, because you cannot get a master’s degree under a year; if anything those people should have been given at least two years notice about the changes. You just cannot spring the changes like that.”
Franklyn contended that the Prime Minister, who is in charge of the Ministry of the Civil Service, had acted on bad advice when he agreed to the changes.
He also appealed to the labour movement to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the new order by standing up to the administration.
“The Prime Minister has been continuously misled by public servants for the entire period he has been in office, even as the Attorney General. He does not pay particular attention to what is happening and he acts on the advice no matter how bad it is. This is extremely bad advice that he has put into law. Many of these changes were made to accommodate certain people, but some of the others were thrown in to make it look like if they were doing something else.
“The unions think that as long as the Order becomes law and the minister signs it they cannot do anything about it. One union has so far told the Government to hold off and let their members act until they get the qualifications. That is madness. It shows that the person does not understand the law,” Franklyn said.
General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers Roslyn Smith told Barbados TODAY she was expected to meet with officials of the Ministry of the Civil Service before meeting with public officers on the issue.