The country’s largest public sector union is satisfied that Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s promise to send home public workers with money in their pockets has been kept – at least for those who are union members.
Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Delicia Burke said although the union has taken issue with certain aspects of the retrenchment exercise, she is happy that “most” public servants from government departments, represented by the NUPW, have been paid.
While she could not give numbers of NUPW members laid off, she indicated that in many cases, workers have been given enough money to carry them through the Yuletide season.
She told Barbados TODAY that scores of workers have gone home with at least back-pay, notice-pay and vacation-pay.
“Most of them would have gone home with some money, I guess there would be concerns about the future, but the good thing, if you could say good, is that the majority of them would have gone home with some money,” she said.
“Even though the money isn’t going to last forever, they would have some money now.”
In October, when the administration’s “economic recovery and transformation” plan, dubbed BERT, was in its early stages, Mottley promised “that the day workers receive their notice, they would be handed with a cheque, at least for severance payments and payment in lieu of notice.
“None of us would feel good having to go home without knowing where money is coming from and who is going to help us tomorrow or to come back next week or next month and be begging for money,” she said.
While laid-off workers from some government departments and statutory corporations like the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation have accused Prime Minister Mottley of breaking that promise, Burke said Government had in some cases gone the extra mile to meet the needs of its former employees.
“Our workers who were laid off, were given an ‘ex gratia’ payment, so even those who weren’t entitled to severance pay, they were given a payment which was computed around the same lines as severance pay, so it really isn’t true to say that they went home without their severance pay. Some who have gone over ten years who were not entitled to certain payments were given gratuities up front,” said Burke.
As for the workers who remained, the acting General Secretary highlighted Customs officers at the Barbados Revenue Authority as an example of overworked civil servants in under-staffed departments.
“We are concerned with the numbers at Customs, it is putting a lot of stress on those workers and only today, one of our members from statistics would have told us they are going through the same thing. They have lost quite a few members of staff and they are expected to give a greater output with less hands and it is causing a lot of stress on behalf of the remaining staff. So we will have to take up that cause on their behalf,” she said.
“We are also really concerned about sanitation and we are concerned about certain things relating to how the layoffs were done.”
Earlier this week, General Secretary of the NUPW Roslyn Smith before going on leave, revealed the union would be seeking the Prime Minister’s direct intervention in a number of matters which are affecting workers.
With Burke now acting in the position, the union will continue to advance the cause, she said.