An Opposition spokesman has described as total “madness” and highly “insensitive”, comments by Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) General Secretary Toni Moore, who on Saturday described as reasonable, suggestions that 1,000 jobs could be lost in phase one of Government’s restructuring programme.
According to Senator Caswell Franklyn, who also heads the Unity Workers Union, the statement by Moore represented a departure from the core principles of the labour movement and was further evidence that the trade unions here were in bed with the Barbados Labour Party Government.
“I never thought I would live to see the day that a union would support the sending home of people. When you send home people, what are they going to do? The union never supports sending home anybody. That is madness,” said Franklyn, who recently described the leadership of the National Union of Public Workers as “political prostitutes” for accepting a five per cent pay rise for civil servants despite holding out for 23 per cent increase during when Democratic Labour Party was in power.
Franklyn further questioned why Government would increase the wage bill for public servants, which took effect last month, only to cut staff later in the name of reducing salary expenditure, which stood $781.8 million for 2017/2018 financial year.
“You know you have to send home people, so why carry up the same wage bill that you are trying to cut?” he said in refererce to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley’s announcement in her June 11 mini Budget presentation that public servants would receive a five per cent across-the-board increase in wages and salaries for the period April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.
“That makes no sense whatsoever. You want to reduce the wage bill by cutting staff but you carry it up.”
Over the weekend Moore said not only were the job cuts necessary to urgently reduce Government expenditure, but that several statutory bodies were bloated because of jobs handed out by the former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration in the lead up to the May 24 general election.
She told Barbados TODAY on sidelines of the 77th Annual Delegates’ Conference at Solidarity House: “If we were looking at a headcount exercise alone, a thousand as is being suggested would be a reasonable conclusion when one considers that within the last six to 12 months before the general election, there were a lot of people given positions in Government even though none were available.”
However, in his usual unabashed manner, Franklyn this morning dismissed Moore’s arguments as “total nonsense.”
“With all due respect to the general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, that is total nonsense. The last administration did not take people who were employed and give them jobs. These people were unemployed and were looking for work and the [then] Government found jobs for them. These people have families to feed also, they have children too that have to go to school and eat.”
The Opposition senator argued that while some may say that Moore’s perspective was pragmatic, it was insensitive to those who were going to be placed on the breadline.
“When you say 1,000 people going home is okay, you certainly cannot mean that it is okay for those that are going home,” he stressed.
In releasing the results of an online survey last week on the restructuring of state owned entities, one of Mottley’s key economic advisers, Dr Kevin Greenidge, said while he could not say precisely how many workers would likely be displaced, of the 40-plus statutory bodies identified in the survey, “at most about 1,000” of the 2,823 employees would be affected.
Another member of Mottley’s economic team, Professor Avinaud Persaud, also made it clear the planned public sector layoffs would not be in the order of 4,000 workers – a reference to suggestions made by former Governor of the Central Bank Dr DeLisle Worrell that a total of 4,500 workers should be cut from the public service over a three-year period.