As a further sign of the widening rift within the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), General Secretary Roslyn Smith has issued a press statement distancing herself and the union from recent comments made by President Akanni McDowall.
Following talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this week, McDowall had hinted to Barbados TODAY that the NUPW was prepared to accept some job losses as part of an IMF supported balance of payments support programme, although he made it clear at the time that the union’s preference was that there be no cuts at all.
“We met with the IMF . . . . The discussion was cordial, and we emphasized the point that we were trying to minimize, or if not prevent, job losses,” the NUPW president had said, adding that “we indicated to them that we were more concerned about the social aspect of the economic recovery. We told them that the way forward for us was to maintain those social aspects while ensuring that the country gains revenue”.
However, in response, Smith said in a statement released yesterday that McDowall’s view did not reflect the position of the union on layoffs.
In fact, she made it clear that “the NUPW has never waivered from its position that public workers, and in particular its members, did not face layoffs”.
As such, the general secretary reported that “the meeting with the IMF steered clear of any mention of job losses, and instead emphasized other ways to assist cost cutting such as flexi-time where appropriate, and more efficiency through technology.
“The union is therefore not prepared to accept job losses as a remedy to fix our debt problem,” Smith stressed, adding that “the much welcomed initiatives implemented by the Mia Mottley-led administration through Social Partnership dialogue emphasizes the importance of, and has implemented policies which will essentially share the heavy tax burden between public and private entities”.
In this regard, the NUPW general secretary noted that a meeting of the Social Partnership was due to be held today at which the Prime Minister was to provide an update on the IMF proposals.
In further publicly chastising the president over his remarks, Smith therefore suggested that McDowall had “prematurely” gone to the press “with predictions of what the IMF may or may not do”.
It was the clearest sign to date of a rumoured rift at the helm of the NUPW
that resulted in the president and the general secretary being at each other’s throats.
As further evidence of the infighting, McDowall has been given seven days by the executive council to respond to certain financial allegations or face possible disciplinary action, including and up to dismissal.