Two trade union leaders in the Senate are calling on Government to address a number of outstanding issues facing public workers, even as they support its efforts to suppress money laundering and terrorism-related crimes.
Senator Caswell Franklyn, the general secretary of the Unity Worker’s Union, said there were some senior public service employees who were in the habit of “terrorizing” their subordinates.
Senator Franklyn referred to similar criticisms of public sector leaders by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan last week in the House of Assembly, saying he could “understand the public service, how it behaves”.
Franklyn said: “We have some senior civil servants who think it is their duty to terrorize the people below them.
“People get sick, cry at work because of some of the things some of these senior people do to them.
“I feel they believe they come work and if they do not terrorize somebody they do not do a good day’s work.”
Senator Franklyn was speaking in the Upper House on Wednesday evening as he joined the debate on the Customs Amendment Bill and the Anti-Terrorism Amendment Act.
The trade union leader insisted that some public sector leaders were operating with a “slave driver mentality”, adding that it was “not in one department but throughout the public service”.
He argued that there were still a number of issues to be ironed out in the public service including in the Customs Department where there were still a number of temporary customs officers awaiting appointment.
“If a public officer commits an offence discipline them but don’t keep them temporary and threaten [them],” he said.
He also complained that there were some qualified individuals who were not able to get jobs or promotion in the public sector while “incompetent” people, friends and families were being hired or promoted.
He declared: “The public service needs a commission of enquiry and let me see where the chips fall. I am begging.
“Or the truth and reconciliation commission, something to get this nastiness out.
“We have created in the public service, some people who don’t have any power home, the wife does boss them ‘bout and they come work and make people’s life miserable.”
At one point during the debate, the outspoken opposition lawmaker drew sighs from fellow lawmakers and a caution against using unparliamentary language when he said that in some cases there were senior public servants who would instruct junior staff members to do something and if it was not done “you know what will happen, your a** is you-know-what”.
Senator Toni Moore, the general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, said she saw the bills as “justifiable efforts on the part of Government to suppress fraud, money laundering and financing of terrorism and bring some order to the way that we do business”.
But Senator Moore said the efforts needed a very comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach “so that measures aren’t seen as merely plaster on sores”.
She explained authorities should address situations that “create an environment that was conducive to breaches, terrorism and violence” including poverty and corruption.
She warned: “Equally important should be the will to fight terror, and that will can’t only be the will of Government to fight terror.
“It must be the will of every citizen in this country to fight something that we regard as threatening our own livelihoods and this country’s stability.”
Stating that a lot of people were finding it “more difficult than they ought to be finding it” in the current economic climate, the trade union boss said this was not only due to retrenchment.
She said: “So it is not only the question of unemployment, but even where people are in employment.
“You want to ensure that the social and human rights of individuals meet the standard that would counter the environments that I am referring to that would be conducive to terrorist acts.
“We must address the major political grievances that are still in the minds of many Barbadians. And specifically I refer to penalties being handed down to those who have been engaged in political crimes.” [email protected]