The island’s largest public sector trade union wants to meet urgently with Government to resolve a number of concerns surrounding Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s recent announcement that all acting public servants who have been “languishing” in their positions for three or more years will be appointed.
According to General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Delcia Burke some members have been raising concerns about loopholes in the proposed measure that would exclude many who merit confirmation in their jobs.
Burke told Barbados TODAY that members are particularly fearful that the appointments only cover those who have been acting in the same post for three of more years and would therefore result in supersession of many others who have been acting much longer albeit in different positions for shorter periods.
“Those are concerns raised by members. We would have had, for example, members working at the Statistical Department. They were clerical officers for a number of years, they were promoted to other positions but they would not have been in those positions for three years. As far as I know, they should be appointed to the position of clerical officer and continue to act in the position or be appointed to the position they currently hold because they are vacant positions,” the NUPW General Secretary said.
“These are things we have to raise with the Ministry of the Public Service, but we have not been informed that these persons will not be appointed,” she added.
The union leader said the NUPW was trying to get a meeting set up with the ministry, but in the meantime, was gathering information from members who feel they might be negatively impacted.
“As far as I am concerned, if you are not appointed but you have been working for more than three years and there is a vacant position, you should be appointed to the post. I don’t know what the difficulty is, but that is the NUPW’s position,” Burke contended.
Questioned about whether the union had been given any details about the planned appointments, Burke said: “Nobody has told us anything. All we know is what the prime Minister said. We know that the NUPW would have submitted a number of names of persons who are not appointed and ask that they be appointed. It has been very slow. We had a few persons appointed – nurses, messengers, driver-messengers and some maids…but it has been extremely slow,” she complained.
The union leader noted that there are members who should have been appointed since 2007 but are still temporary.
“We are promoting the stance that they should be the first people appointed and then deal with the rest. Based on the persons who were sent off from the public service, who were made redundant, I would think that almost everybody that was left should be appointed…because the majority of people should have there more than three years,” Burke explained.
She does not think anybody should use the fact that because a public servant worked in a particular post for a shorter period that they should not be appointed.
“Find some way to appoint them. The majority of the persons in the public service have been working for more than three years,” Burke argued.
She also explained that if the procedure set out in the Public Service Act is followed, there should be no supersession…
Addressing Parliament in June this year during debate on the Barbados Optional Savings Scheme Bill, Prime Minister Mottley recalled that her administration had already appointed scores of customs officers and also some nurses since coming to office two years ago.
The Prime Minister said she was thankful for the support of the labour unions and she would be continuing with the appointment of public servants.
Early last year some 138 posts were created for Customs Officers IV, in an effort to regularize clerical officers who have been acting in the positions at the Customs and Excise Department for several years.
While she did not give a specific number of public servants to be appointed, singling out those in the health sector, police force and customs department, Mottley said her Government was committed to the appointment of public servants who have been “languishing” in acting posts for way too long.
“It is my duty as the Minister for the public service, over the next few months, to have as many people appointed in this country who have been in positions for more than three years. This is not an idle promise. This is a journey on which we have embarked,” she said. [email protected]