Barbados government extends deadline for public service layoffs
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday January 14, 2014, CMC – The Barbados government has extended by 18 days, the deadline for laying off public servants following talks with labour unions on Monday.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said the delay would allow the Ministry of the Civil Service to generate a list of names for those whp would be retrenched as his administration seeks to turn around an ailing economy.
He said the unions- the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) – would be involved in the process.
“We had set the 15th of January for the taking of the first bit of action. That date must now be vacated because of the challenges posed to the Ministry of the Civil Service in even generating the list to be affected,” Stuart said.
“But we are certain now that by the end of this month, we should be able to deal with those issues definitively and finally and of course between now and the end of the month the union will have an opportunity to further report on those issues,” he added.
Last month, the government announced the plan to cut public service jobs in a bid to save BDS$143 million (One BDS dollar = US$0.50 cents).
It said it would also institute a “strict programme of attrition” across the central public service, filling posts only where it is absolutely unavoidable, over the next five years, ending 2018-2019.
“This attrition is expected to reduce central government employment levels from approximately 16 970 to 14, 612 jobs – a projected loss of 2 358 posts; and savings of BDS$121 million. Over the current 19-month adjustment period public sector employment will be reduced by an additional 501 jobs with a projected savings of BDS$26 million,” said Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler, who was also present at Monday’s meeting.
The government said it intends to trim the service by 3,000 jobs and had hoped to begin laying off workers by January 15.
Prime Minister Stuart said the layoffs would not include both breadwinners from the same household even as he insisted that the layoffs were unavoidable.
He said a humane approach would be taken in preparing the list.
“When that list becomes available, then we will be in a better position to know what the exact fallout will be, but whatever the exact fallout is going to be budgetary targets cannot be compromised.
“Having said that I should also make the point that we cannot allow our humanity to yield ground to the pursuit of budgetary targets,” the Prime Minister said.
The meeting Monday followed two rounds of talks involving Sinckler and Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo as well as representatives of the two trade unions.
‘I think every Barbadian knows we have to do something,” said Byer Suckoo, following the latest rounds of talks on Saturday, while Sinckler said “we will respond formally on Monday to the proposals but I think they (unions) pretty well know where our position is.
“Of course this situation cannot be allowed to drag on,” her added.
But Opposition Leader Mia Mottley addressing the first “People’s Assembly” organized by her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) on Sunday night, called for the resignations of Prime Minister Stuart and Sinckler.
“Barbados will not grow until Chris and Freundel go,” she said, adding the government was now engaged in a public relations exercise. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)