As the latest round of public sector job cuts is announced, a former union leader has queried whether the unions had placed alternative proposals to avoid retrenchment.
“A union operating in an environment in 2018 must not only be seen as a member of the Social Partnership,” said ex-president of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Walter Maloney. “The Social Partnership is made up in such a way that persons bring, not only problems to the meetings, but also bring solutions. And so, my question is whether or not the unions in this country brought any solutions to the table to say to Government, ‘look, there might be another way we can do this.’”
He also insisted that the role of the union was to present alternatives and be seen to be so doing.
“Any union that says that they were not aware that this was going to happen would have to be living on some planet that has not been discovered as yet,” the former NUPW leader told Barbados TODAY.
It is his view that the economic signs were there that there would have been job cuts anyhow.
“It is not only about preparing yourself for it, but you had sufficient time where you could have been moving together with your little interest groups, taking your best resources from your organization to say, ‘let us come up with something that will cushion . . . Government could probably get what they want and we could still get what we want,’” he added.
Maloney suggested that most of the workers who were being sent home are young people with about three to six years in the public service.
“You really don’t want those persons going home. And at the other spectrum now when you start looking at certain jobs in the public service, then you looking at persons who are a particular age . . . so you need to see if you could protect them as much as possible and those persons who would be willing to go once they reach that age, that is something you can negotiate,” he said.
He contended that a person going home with all of their salary and benefits in tact is better off than a worker who is at 50 and still has another 15 years to pay his mortgage.
The former NUPW president said he supports the last-in, first-out policy only because there was no proper appraisal system in place in the public sector.
“The last-in first-out…that has already been agreed upon with the unions. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It is not necessarily the best method, but in light of the fact that some places do not have an appraisal system in place, then it would become the only worthy method to use,” he told Barbados TODAY.
In a separate development, Assistant General Secretary of the NUPW Wayne Walrond is reporting backups in bureaucratics systems at Customs and in the Land Adjudication Unit in the Ministry of Housing because all the stenotypists have been dismissed.
Walrond suggested the Government may have to recall some of the same clerical officers they terminated.
“Customs, they gone and move officers from Customs and there is a backup in Customs. You got the Land Adjudication Unit which is in the Ministry of Housing . . . and those stenographer/typists used to provide a lot of clerical support for that department, and that department is in a dire state right now in terms of an absence of clerical support to service the department,” the union official said.