“Laughing Stock: DLP Subjects the NUPW To Public Humiliation” by Henderson Bovell
All during 2013, the country was force to conclude that Donville Inniss might have been assigned a role by Cabinet and the DLP – as “Mascot and political bully” and given free-reign to pick fights and launch unproved political-attacks, even on the BHTA, as a deliberate distraction tactic.
In a previous article, I made the comment that: “it did not bother the DLP and it sure did not seem to have interest trade unions, the social partnership nor civil society – that it is an offence under section 6 of the Election Offences and Controversies Act to offer or accept employment in exchange for a vote.” It is now shocking that what appear to be general elections employment letters, with a “trademark DLP-shelf-life:” 31st December, expiry date – are beginning to surface. The country must now assume that at that date, there would be no more bush; drainage issues or dengue to be concerned about, in Barbados.
The response from NUPW General Secretary Dennis Clarke was quick and clinical: “If you’re looking for public employees who don’t work, you only have to look at those you brought….he is not fully aware of the content of the unions proposals and when he is talking, I would like him to be aware, because its people like him who have contributed to the mess in the public service….they’re things that I would not reveal, but they feel that they can buy land in secret and work it in secret – that can’t happen in this country!”
Mistrust; lost of confidence; frustration; anger and betrayal aside, the DLP has skillfully succeeded in subjecting the NUPW to public humiliation, with tremendous assistance from that union. This could only mean two factions operating and no ‘unity’with in the DLP Cabinet. But, given the intimate relationship between the DLP and the NUPW, one is left to wonder if the NUPW was really caught by surprise or if it knew about the commitments the DLP gave to the IMF, in that black Friday ‘Statement of Intent‘ even before the announcement was made in Parliament.
With Barbados essentially being run from Washington by the IMF, the country watched in disbelief as DLP deceptively gave a gullible trade union and trusting lover, false-hope that nothing was cast-in-stone; that there was ‘still room for discussion,’ or that what was announced in Parliament could have been changed. Yet, the speed at which the DLP then brushed-aside proposals put by the same Union for discussion, signalled that all was not well and left the country wondering why was the DLP so “eager” to out-fox the union in public. The NUPW; workers and the electorate are in a key position to confirm that “used and discarded,” seems to the DLP”s trademark. The union now alleges that its back is against the wall but nobody really believes that and an alert Barbados does not agree that such an account – is the true position in which the union finds itself!
This exchange between the DLP’s Cabinet and the NUPW is a disturbing public brawl, which offends the normal public quiet. Some may even feel it is akin to: ‘a lover’s quarrel or a relationship gone sour‘ because of public embarrassment the Union has been caused by Minister Inniss, apparently, speaking on behalf of the DLP’s Cabinet, since he is still a Minister, even after his unprovoked attack, notwithstanding the DLP’s promise; then betrayal and breach of trust, as regards, backing-away from its sacred commitment of “no layoffs.”
The country cannot be faulted for coming to the conclusion that the union has a lot of secrets holding for this failed-DLP-Government but that it may now have just-cause to feel as disappointed with and betrayed by the DLP, as a mere 200 (out of a possible 10,000 public workers) turning-up for a meeting – suggest how they also feel about the NUPW!
Barbadians are being asked to make even more sacrifices but are left to speculate about what Mr. Clarke means, when he said: “they’re things that I would not reveal, but they feel that they can buy land in secret and work it in secret – that can’t happen in this country.”
The country seems shocked and caught by surprised that the NUPW has hinted that some 6,000 will be sent home by the DLP, perhaps only because Barbadians were ‘distracted’ by the 3,000 figure the media ran with. But,were the country paying attention, it would have noted that as far back as the August 2013 Budget, the Minister of Finance admitted that Government was borrowing some $14 million a month, just to pay 7,000 casual workers.
Alarming, considering that in 2007, the then BLP Government passed the Public Service Act, through which the Government of Barbados declared its intention to change the employment status of everyone working in the Public Service of Barbados, essentially from ‘permanent contingency‘ to ‘security of tenure‘ or from casual/temporary (once satisfying the qualifying conditions under the Act) to permanent. The BLP has always advocates ‘certainty‘ so that people can plan their lives, and improve their circumstances.
In contrast, with an economy in decline and with no growth, taxpayers ought to be stunned, and demand to know how could 3,000; 6,000 any other frightening number of people – be employed by the DLP (in the public service since January 15th 2008) when exactly 100 days after it was elected, the DLP triggered a meltdown of the Barbados economy when it increased the price of diesel by 77% and shortly thereafter, made things much worse with an inflationary budget, resulting in the economy going into recession by October 2008 and remaining in that predicament, ever since!
This country must therefore ask and based on the DLP’s promises of ‘freedom of information‘ - must be told – exactly how many people the DLP employed in the public service since January 15th 2008 – as part of its reckless expansion policy and ‘fatted calf doctrine,’ which now has the country in serious trouble. It is also shocking that in an election year, the DLP would cause Government’s wage bill to rise to 10.3% of GDP, especially in circumstance where a wage freeze was in effect for the six years prior! If there was no increase in pay, then why was the wages and salaries bill, increasing? It is true that the lights have been turned-on and the NUPW has been caught in a compromising position but not with its back against the wall, as it alleges. The NUPW was shy about anything!!!
Whether the DLP appointed its people ahead of those working legitimately before December 31st 2007, the principle of last-in, first-out, must apply, otherwise the DLP will run the risk of committing the country to more cost, as a result of lawsuits, especially when the amendment to section 112 of the Constitution (which prevents government from reducing the pay or the “STATUS“ of a public worker to his disadvantage) is taken with literal intent of the Public Service, Act, 2007. How can a person who the DLP eased-in during the election, find himself employed but a person working for ten years, before January 15th 2008 - find his name on the list to go home?
Given the absence of sound leadership in Barbados and before the country agrees to make any further sacrifice, it must demand that the public service be put back to its December 31st, 2007 position! The country must at the same time – demand to know – how many people were engaged in the Public Service, after January 15th 2008! It is no longer acceptable to have to wait for a lovers-quarrel and a falling-out between the Union and the DLP, to find-out that the union is holding and even in a perilous fiscal crisis with severe social, economic and political instability – seems prepared to hold even more secrets for this failed-DLP-Government, to the detriment of legitimate Public Servants, Taxpayers and Barbados.