As more layoffs loom in the Government’s restructuring programme, The private sector has assured the Mia Mottley administration it will give priority to those retrenched public workers with requisite skills who apply for jobs.
Chairman of the Private Sector Association of Barbados Edward Clarke said the commitment was made to Government today during a meeting of the Social Partnership at which Prime Minister Mottley, who chairs the tripartite body, gave an update on the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
“The commitment of the private sector is that for those people who have been laid off from the Government or will be laid off going forward, they would certainly be considered for any new projects that take place. I know the Minister of Transport and Works [has] had discussions with the private sector on that… and the private sector is committed to doing whatever it can to absorb those people into these projects going forward,” Clarke told Barbados TODAY.
Asked if the retrenched workers would be given priority he replied “I think they would be given priority obviously if they have the right skills. We are cooperating to try and ensure we absorb as many people as we can,” the private sector head added.
The social partners also discussed a series of private sector-driven capital works projects for next year including the Sandals Beaches Resort, the Sagicor Development Project at Boarded Hall, the Barbados Retirement Village, Ross University and a housing development at Coverley, Christ Church, Clarke said.
The meeting also reiterated an earlier Government position that another phase of the restructuring of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) will commence early next year with more job-cuts on the cards, he added.
“The meeting was very fruitful. We discussed the progress being made so far on the BERT programme…. Two months have gone… September and October. November’s report is not out yet. We also discussed the progress being made on some of the issues surrounding the layoffs. We had a fruitful discussion around that, I think we came to a consensus as to what should be done in the future,” Clarke told Barbados TODAY.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams gave the meeting an update on the vexing south coast sewage crisis and plans to fix the problem, the private sector boss said.
He added that the tripartite group also examined the Government’s family mitigation programme which is intended to cushion the most vulnerable in the society from the toughest economic blows.
“We also discussed the process… how that will work. Obviously it is the last social partnership session for the year getting ready for what will happen in the New Year. There are more things happening in the New Year as we try to meet the targets for 2019 in the BERT programme. So there will be much more action required in the early part of 2019 as you could expect,” the spokesman for the private sector noted.
“The social partnership all agreed that we are on the right track. The private sector assured the Government and the social partnership it would continue to support the Government in its efforts to put Barbados back on the right footing,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Representing labour interests in the tripartite body, National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) President Akanni McDowall described the talks as meaningful and cordial.
“Concerning the retrenchment process, the officers within the Ministry gave us an update on the number of persons that were retrenched from the public service, both in central Government and in SOEs. The union was able to indicate and address some of the concerns we had with the process,” McDowall told Barbados TODAY.
The union leader was also keen to hear an update on the mitigation unit and its plans to assist severed workers.
“Ultimately, we want to ensure that the affected workers could find employment and provide for themselves and their families,” he added. firstname.lastname@example.org