The National Union of Public Workers has declared it is setting its sights on the longstanding issue of permanent appointments in the Civil Service.
Acting NUPW Deputy General Secretary Wayne Waldron told Barbados TODAY that the matter has languished on the backburner for far too long and the time has come for Government to take workers out of a “perpetual state of limbo” regarding their tenure.
Acknowledging that this matter had been raised on several occasions with little change to show, Waldron made it clear that this time around, the union intends to use the voice and will of the people more forcefully.
“This is not just a case of the union making representation, but we must use the voice of the people to make things happen on this occasion. It cannot continue without some resolution in sight because this is a very big issue and it is something that is flagged all of the time. The union never rules out people’s power and more aggressive action.”
But Waldron was quick to note that the NUPW was not necessarily advocating industrial action.
He charged that by delaying these appointments for as long as they have, successive governments have run counter to the spirit of the 2007 Public Service Act.
He said: “This was conceptualized so that the management and efficiency within the public service would improve. One of the things that was supposed to happen was that a vacant post was supposed to be filled within a year. That was the intention of the legislation but what has happened is that persons have been allowed to act in positions for years.
“Successive governments have taken the approach of getting around to this matter when they feel like it. This approach cannot be allowed to continue, and we will, therefore, be making a submission to have this process addressed with a high degree of urgency.”
But while the union leader insisted the union was taking a tempered but firm approach to the process, he also stressed that workers are being made to feel as though their backs are against the wall. He argued that it was worryingly commonplace to find workers acting in positions for ten years, and the union could only conclude that their job security was being leveraged against them.
Suggesting that the public service was moving backwards on appointments: “You cannot continue to have these ridiculous types of situations where people are working indefinite periods of time and they are still at the mercy of authorities (approval) that are month to month or six months. To me it looks as if this is a method of keeping uncertainty over people’s heads so as to make them more compliant with whatever is demanded of them, but this is wrong.”
He added: “Since 1998, the Public Service has moved from casual employees and replaced all of them with public officers. However, it seems as though we are making retrograde steps in making the work precarious by having these workers working under a cloud of uncertainty.” [email protected]