CTUSAB’s updated position on Layoffs in the Public Service of Barbados
At a special meeting of the Executive Board of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) held on Thursday, 9th January 2014, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) presented its proposals as submitted to government, which were designed to reduce the growing fiscal deficit and avoid the layoff of over three thousand public workers. It also updated the body on developments in the ongoing discussions with the Government of Barbados on its intended programme of layoffs in the Public Service and Statutory Boards.
CTUSAB is pleased to learn that Government has finally moved to observe Article 13 of ILO Convention #158 – Termination of Employment Convention, 1982, which requires that:
‘When the employer contemplates terminations for reasons of an economic, technological, structural or similar nature, the employer shall:
(a) provide the workers’ representatives concerned in good time with relevant information including the reasons for the terminations contemplated, the number and categories of workers likely to be affected and the period over which the terminations are intended to be carried out;
(b) give, in accordance with national law and practice, the workers’ representatives concerned, as early as possible, an opportunity for consultation on measures to be taken to avert or to minimize the terminations and measures to mitigate the adverse effects of any terminations on the workers concerned such as finding alternative employment.
The Congress denounces the practice whereby temporary employees are reportedly being laid off without prior notice being served.
CTUSAB therefore calls upon the Government and its officials to demonstrate a higher level of transparency in the process, so as to eliminate the fears and incidence of unfair treatment, victimization and/or discrimination of employees in the Public Service who are holding temporary appointments.
Given that the Government’s programme of layoffs targets temporary public workers, and notwithstanding the initial assurance given that employees in Health, Education and Defence and Security will not be affected, based on information placed at its disposal, CTUSAB has a growing concern that there could be a falling away from that assurance.
CTUSAB contends that these discussions should have taken place at the level of the Social Partners of Barbados, and calls on the government to respect Section 1.3 of Protocol VI, which states:
“The Social Partners believe that their association in this endeavour should be characterized by a willingness to pursue a joint approach to the formulation of policies, to the solving of problems, and to the management of a process of change and social development.”
As Government continues to initiate its policy of layoffs in the Public Service, CTUSAB restated its position that it does not support the programme of layoffs, until the government has satisfied the labour movement that it has considered and exhausted all other possible options in managing the current fiscal deficit.
In addition to the matter of layoffs, CTUSAB is concerned about the foreign exchange earning capacity of the country, and is of the view that the challenge of stagnant growth must be tackled simultaneously and with equal or more vigour.
To this end, the Congress respectfully calls for the convening of an urgent meeting of the Full Social Partnership, to engage in a national dialogue for the purpose of developing a protocol specifically aimed at Recovery of and Growth in the Barbados economy.
This protocol would require each social partner to specify those actions, approaches, programmes and projects that they are prepared to introduce and agree upon to engender growth in the economy.