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CTUSAB says no to layoffs

12/22/2013

The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) says it is not supporting Government’s proposed plan to lay off 3 000 public sector workers next month, contending that all possible measures have not been examined.

Speaking to the media yesterday at its Beckles Road headquarters, President of the Congress, Cedric Murrell, also rejected the proposal to freeze the increments of public officers for a two-year period, a measure which was included in the plans announced by Finance Minister Christopher Sinckler recently. Murrell explained that the Congress is not supporting this move as it believes that the plan may be unconstitutional and therefore open to legal challenge.

Nonetheless, he pointed out that CTUSAB is mindful that with the fiscal deficit as high as it is immediate adjustments must be made in order to arrest the country’s declining foreign reserves position, and as such he has put forward a recommendation that the Congress believes will help to address the current economic situation. They are suggesting that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart should invite the social partners to develop a Protocol on Recovery and Growth, drawing on the strengths of the Social Partnership.

“The Prices and Incomes Protocol which was negotiated in 1993 grew out of a period when the Barbados economy had very significant challenges, and we believe that a similar approach to natural dialogue, led by a Minister of Government with the necessary latitude to negotiate an agreement with the other partners, should be attempted,” he said.

The president added, “We are not anticipating a negative reaction to what we are calling for because what we are calling for is an extension, but a targeted extension to what we presently have. We presently have a Protocol starting from Prices and Incomes to Protocol VI… but what we are saying now is that we need to sit down as social partners and focus specifically on recovery and growth.”

Murrell stated that the social partners need to move beyond consultation to the stage where each partner identifies how they will contribute to national recovery and transformation. He said that the Congress is fearful that if Government follows through with its plans, they will cause the economy to continue to contract and not register growth, as has been suggested.
Noting that Barbados now faces a bigger challenge than it did in 1991, he said it requires a national effort and transformation and he maintained CTUSAB believes that all efforts should be made to minimise the level of layoffs by Government, given that this could further impact the already ailing economy and put the country’s social services under further stress. (JRT)

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