Some 60 people out of about 1,000 ex-public workers who were fired in an IMF-supervised austerity programme have found new jobs in the private sector under the Government’s Mitigation Unit, the social activist who has been appointed to ease the pain of the layoffs has revealed.
Four months into his role as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals, Corey Lane has told Barbados TODAY that the Mitigation Unit has placed more than 60 people out of the public sector into private sector jobs.
My last count was 62 but I am sure that it is more than that now. Because a lot of people thought the unit in the early stages was there to re-employ people and find jobs for people and that was not the case. The officers in the unit would have negotiated especially in the construction sector and so on so these people could have gotten preferential consideration and they have been able to place [these ex-public officers] in a short time.”
Out of working on the Government’s retrenchment exercise, Lane said his primary focus is the second sustainable development goal which is having zero hunger by 2030.
“In terms of the zero hunger project I worked with companies such as Pricesmart, Tropical Shipping, Massy Foods and Massy Distribution on getting healthy and safe food that would otherwise be dumped in this country to some of the extremely poor [people] to ensure that they can have something to eat.
“I am happy to report that we have started a small project and have been able to ensure four palettes of food over the past four months and it is my hope in the future that we are able to expand and give [food] to those who are the most in need,” he said.
The special advisor to the Prime Minister told Barbados TODAY the Mitigation Unit has found it difficult to contact some of the retrenched workers as contact information had not been updated. Therefore, the unit is to draft a press release to advise on the Mitigation Unit’s work.
Lane said the Government is also to embark on financial management education to help Barbadian manage their finances as many workers lived from paycheck to paycheck.
He told Barbados TODAY: “I do acknowledge that there are a number of young people who have been only working for a certain period who would not have had time to build up wealth who find themselves as part of this retrenchment exercise but they are young and can still be able to lean on family members and so on.
“There are some cases where persons use all the money they get in severance and pay all of their debts and then found themselves in some unfortunate situations.”
Lane, who was appointed Special Advisor back in November, acknowledged that a lot of errors have been made in the way governments has handled retrenchment. He said he was being guided by empirical evidence to ensure that the current Mottley administration does not make such grave mistakes.
“I put a scoring system in place and one of the things that scoring system looked at was persons who were sole caretakers or caretakers of elderly parents, disabled children or sole breadwinners. [Also,] persons who did not receive their severance, gratuity, pension or whatever was entitled to them at the time. So if you had children you had to take care of and you had dependents and you did not receive [your funds] you went on a priority list to the Prime Minister to see if something immediately could be done,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Saying that Barbadians are of the opinion that having a job is essential for a quality life, Lane suggested that this attitude needs to be removed from the social fabric of Barbados.
He said: “A lot of us believe that we must have that 9-5 job it is that or nothing. Or people believe that we must have this government job but when you no longer have that government job how do [you] survive.
“[You] go home and [you] go on pension not understanding the end all and be all of life is not a government job as there are other things that you can do to create wealth for yourself and create economic activity for the country.” (LG)