Government’s decision to adopt the ‘last in first out’ tradition in job cuts will only drain the public service of young blood, the Democratic Labour Party’s caretaker for St James Central, George Connolly, has warned.
Delivering the second Astor B Watts lecture since the series restarted last week after a four-month break, Connolly argued that by applying the policy, the Barbados Labour Party Government is using antiquated measures on a modern-day workforce.
“I want you to put aside any partisan political feelings that you might have and just think sensibly for a minute. If you have an organization that has been employing people for more than 70 years then chances are you would have a fair set of people close to retirement age and those persons would be able to make less and less of a contribution both in terms of national insurance and productivity. So it makes no sense to toss the new talent out,” Connolly declared.
The businessman and former DLP candidate in the last general election is of the view that the Mottley administration’s decision to layoff close to 1,000 public workers, mostly clerks and typists, was essentially further marginalizing young people.
“We have 25 per cent youth unemployment in this country and we have escalating crime issues and those are individuals who feel as though they have no status and function within the society. This programme of separation and severance is again targeting those same persons, who would have been the last ones to go into the Government service,” said Connolly.
He further contended that the system does no favours for workers who have spent substantial years in the public service, as he was confident that many would relish the opportunity to go home providing that their pensions would kick in.
“Again, we are targetting those in society who have been able to save and are now in a position to enjoy the fruits of their labour. But instead I have people coming to me at 65 [years old] saying that they have to work . . . . Why would you not take the approach of reducing the retirement age by five for those that can afford to part with and offer them a package that assures them that they get full retirement benefit? . . . .It is just a commonsense thing,” he suggested.
During the question and answer segment of the lecture, the DLP’s election campaign manager, trade unionist Robert Bobby Morris agreed that ‘last-in first-out’ was no longer relevant. But he argued that Government may have had a political motivation for applying it in this instance.
“In this case, the last recruits would have belonged to the Democratic Labour Party and most of them would not be members of the trade unions. So quite frankly those unions would not be too bothered if those persons go because they won’t lose any income and they could always put it down to the flow of things,” he said.
In her address to the nation on Sunday ahead of the layoffs, which were scheduled to begin today, Prime Minister Mottley acknowledged that it was a painful exercise, that would be underpinned by the ‘last-in first-out’ principle. She also revealed that severed workers are in line to receive full packages.
“There will be severance-type packages available to persons, particularly the temporary persons — and more than 80 per cent are temporary. Those severance type packages will also be buttressed by payment in lieu of notice,” she said. (CM)