Some of the 1,500 public workers selected to go home as part of the Government’s restructuring programme have begun receiving written and verbal notice.
But the union who represents most of the state’s employees suggests a botched process in which workers have been sent home without final paycheques in their pockets.
Employees in the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the Postal Service began getting their walking papers yesterday, Barbados TODAY has learned.
While he could not say which categories of workers have been notified, Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Wayne Walrond said this evening that some of its members informed the union that they received verbal notice that today was their last day on the job.
This came at a time when the Head of the Civil Service Louis Woodroffe issued a memorandum to members of the Committee of Permanent Secretaries and Officers of Related Grade today telling them that the termination process should be completed by day’s end, if not, next Wednesday.
“Following a review of staff assignments across the public service, it has been decided that Permanent Secretaries should proceed with the termination of those departmental posts identified, and should seek to have this process completed today,” the memo read.
But the document went on to tell them that in instances where the process could not be concluded today, it should be completed by Wednesday.
“No action should be taken in respect of general service posts until a new list is distributed by the Personnel Administration Divison (PAD). The new list will be available by Monday, October 22,” Woodroffe stated.
He also noted that the PAD will soon advise on the adjustments to Smart Stream, the Government’s payments system.
Critical of the Mottley administration’s handling of the job cuts, the NUPW’s Acting General Secretary described the retrenchment process as just a “chop exercise”.
He noted that despite the assurances given by the Government that workers who are retrenched would go home with their entitlements, this promise has been broken.
“The National Public Workers is extremely concerned about the number of reports from employees informing us that they have received oral communication that today is their last at work . . . that they have been terminated,” Walrond told Barbados TODAY.
These workers are being told that they will be contacted when their letters are ready and their money is ready, he said.
“This seems to suggest that the relevant agencies are not quite ready. I call it the chop exercise, not the scalpel. This is very barbaric and inhumane because before you are ready to deal with all of the loose ends of termination you are ready to send home workers empty-handed,” the spokesman for the largest public sector trade union stressed.
He is upset that the workers were told about their retrenchment without either correspondence or their salary being readily available.
“And this is in addition to the pain of not having a job. . . and this is contrary to human dignity as you are now sending home the workers today when you are not ready. I understand it may be off of the smart stream system. So that means the notice, if it is a month’s notice, may go effective from today and not necessarily from the end of the month,” Walrond said.
He emphasized his disappointment with “this type of treatment”. The union leader said the NUPW has been warning the relevant authorities that this exercise needed to be properly ventilated and follow a process and more time was needed to tidy up all loose ends and arrangements.
“The union is not averse or naïve that there is a structural adjustment programme and that there will be consequences in terms of people being terminated; but at the same time all we were asking is please go through the process properly, tidy up the process, please let us ventilate all the matters of entitlements so when you are ready, workers move with their full entitlements, added Walrond.