RIGHTS OF PUBLIC WORKERS BEING ERODED BY DLP GOVERNMENT
The workers’ rights and entitlements which government employees, political leaders and trade unions in Barbados have fought for and achieved over the last 60 years are in a large measure being surely eroded by the current DLP Government.
We now have a situation where not only thousands of workers have been summarily dismissed and retrenched by this Government but in addition to that travesty, having been so dismissed, they still cannot get the money that is due to them under the laws of the country six months and more after their dismissal. All this after the DLP promised leading up to last year’s election that not one public worker would be retrenched if it was re-elected to office.
It is politically irresponsible for any Government of any just society to fire its employees without being in a position to compensate them in accordance with the law of the land. Yet six months after they have been dismissed thousands of the employees, whether formerly of the Transport Board, National Conservation Commission, National Housing Corporation, Beautify Barbados or of other government entities, cannot get their full money due. Furthermore, many of them have had to demean and dehumanize themselves by demonstrating in front of their former work headquarters to even get a hearing from the relevant authorities in order to find out when they may possibly get their money.
Under the Severance Payments Act, the Minister of Finance ought to ensure that these former government workers receive interest at the rate of at least 6 per cent per annum on all severance monies due to them which remain outstanding four months after their dismissal.
About half a dozen of the 60 odd Beautify Barbados general workers are my constituents. I have written to the Ministry of Environment and Drainage since May this year on behalf of some of them requesting payment of the monies due to them. No positive response has been forthcoming from any one in that Ministry. Many of these workers were employed by the Government of Barbados in this project for about 15 years. Under the 2007 Public Service Act, enacted under the last BLP administration, they were entitled to be appointed to the public service and were entitled to the benefits of such appointment. Instead of so appointing them and giving them security of tenure after so many years of employment, this DLP Government dismissed them with one week’s notice, with no gratuity and with only 3 weeks’ vacation pay.
All these dismissed Government workers are a part of the most vulnerable sectors of our society. There were the general workers, maids, gardeners, bus drivers, life guards, beach rangers, field supervisors and clerks. They have children to send to school, to clothe and to feed, utility bills and rent or mortgages to pay and taxes to render unto the Government. What manner of political administration will treat poor people in this way?
All the gains made over many decades by public workers in this country are in serious danger of being rolled back by a political party that has shown itself to be callous and uncaring towards the people who have elected it to govern.
EDMUND G. HINKSON
Attorney-at-Law and St. James North Member of Parliament
6th October, 2014