As the Government’s austerity measures prepare to bite harder with confirmation that the jobs of 1500 civil servants will be on the chopping block in the coming weeks, Barbadians appear to be pinning their hopes on their new Prime Minister to heal a broken economy with strong medicine.
Although the decision has raised alarm among public workers, 80 per cent of them being temporary workers, Barbadians have told Barbados TODAY that the Government’s hand has been forced and the nation’s first female Prime Minister is “doing what she has to do”.
Retiree Errol Kirton said he believed Prime Minister Mia Mottley made a drastic but necessary decision in light of the country’s perilous financial situation.
“The economy is not certain; hard and drastic measures need to be taken . . . . Hopefully things will level out to the point that we can be more comfortable again socially and economically,” said Kirton.
Another Barbadian described the mass layoffs as unfortunate but contended it was a necessary measure.
“We have to give her the chance to do that so we will see what will happen,” said the citizen.
Commenting on the ‘last in, first out’ approach being implemented by the Government, some Barbadians have argued that the measures being implemented by the Mottley administration were in response to some individuals receiving their positions due to political interference in the Democratic Labour Party regime.
“Some of these . . . people who come in and are doing absolutely nothing because they were sent there, they think they can come and do nothing so they can go,” one person told Barbados TODAY.
Democratic Labour Party stalwart Frank DaSilva said that all bodies needed to work together.
“In the early nineties we were in a worst situation. The foreign reserves were down to two weeks and the unemployment rate was 24.7 per cent . . . yet we worked together and if we have to do something today it is to work together,” said DaSilva.
During her address to the nation, the Prime Minister assured that each retrenched worker would receive a severance package. A household mitigation unit will be set up to ensure no one falls below the minimal standard of living, she added.
But a civil servant who requested anonymity because she is prohibited from speaking on Government policy told Barbados TODAY that she felt the cuts will put younger temporary employees at a disadvantage.
“This is the same party that made education much freer for tertiary level so you are letting [young people] get degrees easier but then you don’t have anywhere to put them and then you are sending them home. You are making education much easier and then there are no jobs for them.
“There are measures that need to be done for our economy to be better so everyone has to make sacrifices but that method is easier for the Government but how is it for other people?”
The public worker suggested an alternative not taken up by her employers.
“You have persons with higher levels that can do with salary deductions; they are not doing that, because persons higher up they are getting more and then the small persons are getting sent home. If everyone sacrifices a little then it would be a little easier for us,” the public servant added.