The Mia Mottley administration is being warned that if it does not get its job cuts procedures right, it could end up facing expensive lawsuits, Democratic Labour Party (DLP) President Verla De Peiza has warned.
De Peiza sought to offer her party’s perspective on Government’s plans to send home 1,500 public workers as part of the International Monetary Fund-supported Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
De Peiza expressed concern that the Government seemed not to have learned from the ruling of the Employment Rights Tribunal in the matter of the hundreds of National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers who were retrenched by the previous DLP administration.
“It is good that you have retraining
. . . . We did that as well through the Ministry of Labour . . . that’s fine. But when you make these cuts . . . and you make them quickly. There was no build up. I haven’t seen any application of Section (31) of the Employment Rights Act. I have not seen any application of the judgement coming out of the NCC litigation before the Employment Rights Tribunal,” the DLP President told Barbados TODAY.
Section 31 of the employment rights law refers to the process of consultation required before making workers redundant.
“I would expect, that if they don’t do it according to the book, that we are going to have another round of litigation which is also expensive,” De Peiza, who is an attorney at law added.
Noting that her former Government tried to retrench workers the “gentle way”, De Peiza told Barbados TODAY the pending job cuts cannot address any challenges that exist.
“If you are hiving the jobs at the bottom, but you are packing on the jobs at the top, you don’t actually achieve anything . . . it can’t work. So when you have a bloated Cabinet . . . and it’s not just about the ministers . . . each one will require a permanent secretary, staffing, office space, office furniture, using utilities…and then you, along with that, start hiving off the jobs at the bottom? You are not actually addressing the issue,” the political leader contended.
In its decision in the NCC case handed down on July 15, 2016, the Employment Rights Tribunal referred to Section 31(4) of the Employment Rights Act which said “where it is contemplated that the employer’s workforce will be “reduced by ten per cent or any other significant number”, the employer is required to engage carry out the consultations with the employee or trade union, providing a “written statement of the reasons for and other particulars of the dismissal”.
The Tribunal again cited the Act in stating how the consultations should be carried out either with the affected workers or their representative.
“The consultations shall be in respect of the proposed method of selecting the employees who are to be dismissed; the proposed method of carrying out the dismissals, with due regard to any agreed procedure, including the period over which the dismissals are to take place; and any measures that the employer might be able to take to find alternative employment for those who are to be dismissed, and to mitigate for them the adverse effects of the dismissals.”