Mottley says consultation was needed
Wed, 07/20/2016 - 12:00am
OPPOSITION Leader Mia Mottley believes that there should have been some consultation before any amendments to the Constitution of Barbados were brought before the Parliament of Barbados yesterday.
Saying that there ought to have been some explanatory memoranda to be attached to Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2015, she stressed that governance in the system must be coherent and mixed messages should not be sent to the employees. She also highlighted the short time given to prepare for the debate.
While the Bill sought to address changes to the retirement age of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Auditor General (AG), which must be made within the Constitution of Barbados, Mottley used the opportunity to highlight the status of employees of statutory boards in Barbados.
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart on a Point of Order, reminded that the relationship between a statutory authority and an employee is based on contract, and the relationship between a Central government employee and the Crown is based on status. “Statutory boards cannot come into a debate like this,” he reiterated.
Mottley told the Honourable Chamber, “We sought to extend the compulsory retirement age for employees of statutory boards in the same way that we did for public servants. And we sought to do it because we believe in equity and fairness between the class of public servants as well as the class of statutory board employees.
“In the same way the BLP, in an initiative introduced by the member for St. Peter [Owen Arthur], sought to remove the category of casual employees from the dictionary of the Barbados public service because we recognise that having disparity between those officers and public servants was not the kind of Barbados we wanted to live in, particularly given that the Constitution, the same 1966 Constitution, said we should not seek to discriminate against persons.”
Mottley reminded the Honourable Members in the Chamber about the disagreement between the Government of Barbados and the BIDC one year ago, which she said almost brought the country to its knees.
“I just read the Law that applies to them. I cannot go into the merits of the BIDC case because the Government of Barbados in its wisdom in spite of removing the ambiguity that they claim existed, but does not exist for any of the rest of us when we read the legislation including the statutory board employees, including the unions, but the Government said the sections are ambiguous.” She lamented that attempts have not since been made to clear up the ambiguities.
“Our position is that this amendment to the Constitution will of ne-cessity have to be done for that equity, but we ask the Government formally on the floor of this Chamber to use the Cabinet, which is the instrument of policy of this country, pursuant to the same Constitution to offer the assurance to thousands of employees of statutory boards that they will not have to be put to the expense of going to the law courts to assert their rights in relation to retirement, granted to them through multiple amendments to the Statutory Board Pension Act.
“And in the same way the DPP and the AG have not had to spend money to go to court to assert their rights, that the thousands of employees of statutory boards will receive the same treatment and protection from this Government, who often asserts itself to be the protector of the many, but has been found by the country to be the protector of the few,” she stated. (JH)