A Government Senator has taken a nasty dig at the Toni Moore-led Barbados Workers’ Union and the Charles Herbert-led Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), accusing them both of hypocrisy over their recent criticisms of the Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRP).
In fact, delivering a stinging attack against them on Friday during the weekly Astor B Watts Democratic Labour Party (DLP) lunchtime lecture at the party’s George Street headquarters, Reginald Hunte suggested that neither group “should not be trusted”.
“It is a time for war,” the outspoken Senator and staunch DLP supporter also declared, explaining that war was needed to “save the souls of the people of this country” and “not allow them to befall into the hands of the private sector as they did 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, aided by a conservative party like the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
“I want to look at the Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan and reaction from the Barbados Workers’ Union and Charles Herbert – the hypocrisy,” Hunte said, arguing that after calling for an economic recovery plan to be formulated, Herbert had since been very critical of the BSRP, which the Freundel Stuart administration said was designed to help rescue the Barbados economy.
“I am going to show you really why you can’t trust those people . . . . This is the recovery plan signed by representatives – of course you had Freundel Stuart from the Government, you had Charles Herbert, you had Cedric Murrell, you had Toni Moore and you had of course, Louis Woodroffe, who is the director of finance and economic affairs,” Hunte explained.
“Charles Herbert was on radio [saying] . . . this is not a recovery plan, it is only a wish list’. But look at what he said in December, that we need one, but now there is one, because a few people came out and [commented on] it adversely, he gone back in a shell. That is hypocrisy! It is dishonesty! That goes to show you can’t trust these people. They are totally against the Democratic Labour Party,” Hunte said.
Herbert has been consistent in lamenting the slow pace of implementation in some cases, and calling for the Social Partners – Government, private sector and labour movement – to meet and discuss an economic recovery plan, as well as the method of implementation.
However, he complained that the actual document, and the process of its completion was controlled by the Minister of Finance, with consultation only occurring with the other Social Partners “at points during the process of its development”.
The BPSA head also pointed out that “implementation plans, which are critical to the success of the objectives, are still to be developed”, adding that the document was a representation of an improvement in the collaboration of the Social Partners but should be built on.
Asked by Barbados TODAY to respond to Hunte’s allegations, Herbert made it clear today that his call has always been for a meeting of the Social Partners for the development of an economic recovery plan, which has still not taken place.
“The Minister of Finance controlled the plan and it did not achieve the focus and implementation detail that we thought it needed. That is why I stand by the limited support . . . to the plan,” he said.
“As we speak I am not aware of a single action that has been taken as a result of the plan . . . . I believe my stance and position has been consistent and frank,” he added.
In his attack on Friday, Hunte also took a swipe at the Mia Mottley-led Opposition BLP, suggesting that their intention was to slash the more than 25,000-strong public service.
“The Government of Barbados was trying to retain jobs. So what was wrong with if you had to borrow money to pay salaries?” he asked, referring to Mottley’s criticism of Government’s borrowing to pay public servants.
“That is why I am a little vex today with the trade unions, because whilst the Government of Barbados has been trying to preserve jobs, they have been walking ‘bout trying to get rid of themselves and I am vex about that,” said Hunte, in an apparent reference to several organized protests last year to press for wage increases.
However he made it clear that it was “not a matter of taking away any rights from the workers because I am first and foremost a people’s person,”
Former Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell has also been calling for Government to cut about 4,500 public servants in order to reduce its spending.
Without referring specifically to Worrell, Hunte said “what they want this Democratic Labour Party Government to do is send home persons”.
However, while acknowledging that the public service was overstaffed and “some of them don’t do a lot”, Hunte insisted that if workers were severed there would be “a lot of paros”.
“You are going to see a lot of thieves, you are going to see a lot of crooks,” he cautioned, while pointing out that former Central Bank Governor Sir Courtney Blackman had made the same suggestion to then Prime Minister Owen Arthur to send home workers in 2001 but the offer was not taken up “because he [Arthur] knew the catastrophe of what would happen”.