The pain of austerity hit home for the Barbados court service, while two state-owned enterprises (SOE) were put on notice that they would soon feel the pinch of Government’s restructuring.
On Wednesday afternoon, workers at the Court Registry were traumatized by what they claim was a lack of empathy in the manner 17 of their colleagues were sent home.
The development was too much to bear for veteran Court Marshal Supervisor Bernadette Williams who was on the verge of tears, as she said the process was devoid of empathy and courtesy toward those.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) shop steward recounted reports from officers, who said they were essentially “rounded up“ by a messenger and brought to the Manor Lodge offices, where, they were given their dismissal letters by top court officials.
Williams told Barbados TODAY that workers relegated to breadline broke down in tears while colleagues were emotionally traumatized and concerned for the well-being of their former co-workers. Those remaining also fear for their own future. Word on the ground is that there are more dismissal letters to come.
“I am not pleased at all with how it has been handled, said Williams, “I was told a messenger went and collected them, brought them here to this office, to be told that they would be retrenched. That is not good at all because they should have been called and asked to come in for a certain time.”
“The morale of the staff is not good at all and people are on edge because they don’t know if they are going to be sent home tomorrow when they come to work,” said Williams, who revealed that one female court employee locked herself in her car after receiving the news and was inconsolable. She also told Barbados TODAY that one of the officers had young children while another had just entered into a mortgage.
Williams is also concerned that the dismissals are going to take a toll on an already stretched marshal service. She explained it was only in June that ten additional marshals were brought on and this helped clear some of the backlog in collections of fines and delivery of warrants. Since three of those marshals were sent home, and if more follow, Williams is worried this could lead to a return of backlogs.
“Our compliment is supposed to be about 55 and we have about 22 marshals,” said Williams, “God only knows how much more will go.”
The senior marshal said, “Things are going to be very hard going forward. As a matter of fact it is going to be doubly hard because one marshal is going to have to be responsible for two districts,”
As workers were sent home from the court, the board of the Caribbean Broadcasing Corporation (CBC) met management and staff to discuss the imminent impact of Government’s restructuring process.
Board chairperson Melba Smith told workers that CBC is one of the SOEs to be restructured in Phase I of the BERT programme. Smith reminded workers the Prime Minister had said in a recent broadcast Phase I restructuring must be completed by the end of the year.
Making it clear staff will be cut, she revealed the board will be holding discussions with the Barbados Workers Union to ensure that the process is conducted swiftly and fairly.
Chairperson of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Leodean Worrell also met with employees to discuss Government’s ongoing restructuring exercise.
Joined by other board members, Worrell told over 700 employees the board was mindful that the restructuring must be done in consultation with their representative unions and, in compliance with the principals of fairness and natural justice.
She said, “I particularly wish to re-emphasize the phrase principals of fairness and natural justice. As we are aware, there exists among the staff of the BWA a tremendous fear of victimization and favoritism.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mottley apologized for the toll the retrenchments were taking on the country.