Workers are predicting that chaos could rule in Barbados’ court system when more staff of the Barbados Court Registry are sent home. The impending retrenchments were announced to a hastily-called meeting Monday afternoon at the court’s temporary facilities at Manor Lodge, St. Michael.
That’s where Registrar Barbara Cook-Alleyne told workers that more from the department will be on the breadline soon, joining the 17 colleagues sent home two weeks ago as part of Government’s restructuring exercise.
However, an official close to the development, warned that operations in the already stretched court service could be even further retarded with any further down-sizing.
Barbados TODAY understands that it was just before midday today that workers were informed that they must attend an “emergency meeting”, at Manor Lodge with Cooke-Alleyne, at 3 p.m.
The Registrar is reported to have told the workers that the department was preparing to send home more staff over the next few days. One worker explained that Cooke-Alleyne did not confirm numbers at the meeting.
When approached, Cooke-Alleyne, declined to provide any details on the meeting.
Late last month, the first batch of Court Registry workers received their termination letters.
The official noted “If they send home more workers, it is going to have a significant effect on the court system which is already struggling. Since October liquor licences got approved, but it is only last week that they received them and that is because there was nobody to write them up.
“People were at the Court quarreling about not getting their liquor licence. Then down at the Magistrate Court is in a mess. There is hardly any staff down there,” the official said.
The official who opted for anonymity for fear of victimisation also informed Barbados TODAY that the system is already short on court marshals and explained that if any additional marshals are sent home in this latest batch of workers identified, there would be a lot of vacant districts in the marshals department.
“There are six or seven areas in District “A” alone that there are no marshals to serve. But I guess they will see what a mess it is when it actually hits home that there is no staff at the courts to deal with the maintenance, with the traffic offences, to write up the receipts . . .
“The judiciary is very important. It would hit home when people come and they are told ‘we don’t have a clerk here today to write your receipt’. If you go to court and you get a fine, and there is no clerk to write the receipt what is going to happen?” the official queried.
“Right now you are working with a skeleton staff at the Domestic Court at St Matthias. There were about eight people, and now you have three people to do the work of six or eight people. How are you going to get that done? . . .” the official asked.
When contacted, an official at the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) said that the union was not in a position to comment on the matter since “we were not even made aware that there was going to be a meeting”.
“I am shocked. We now have to go and do our investigations. We cannot speak to the media now, because we now have to find out what happened at the meeting,” the union official said.