Doubts over vol­un­tary sep­a­ra­tion memo

UK Barbados Nation - - NEWS - By HEATHER-LYNN EVANSON heather­lynevan­[email protected]­tion­news.com

ABOUT A MONTH after Gov­ern­ment started its re­trench­ment pro­gramme in the pub­lic sec­tor, the head of the Civil Ser­vice has of­fered vol­un­tary sep­a­ra­tion pack­ages to em­ploy­ees in cer­tain ar­eas.

How­ever, both the Na­tional Union of Pub­lic Work­ers (NUPW) and the Bar­ba­dos Work­ers’ Union (BWU) are eye­ing the of­fer with scep­ti­cism.

On No­vem­ber 16, Civil Ser­vice head Louis Woodroffe sent a mem­o­ran­dum to per­ma­nent sec­re­taries and heads of de­part­ment in­form­ing them that Gov­ern­ment was “con­tem­plat­ing” of­fer­ing a “lim­ited num­ber” of vol­un­tary sep­a­ra­tion pack­ages to gen­eral work­ers, stenog­ra­pher/typ­ists, clerk/typ­ists and cler­i­cal of­fi­cers.

The memo, how­ever, in­di­cated that any pub­lic ser­vant who wanted to take up the of­fer had to in­di­cate in­ter­est by Fri­day, No­vem­ber 23.

The doc­u­ment added that “de­tails of the pro­posed pack­age will be avail­able shortly and will be dis­cussed with of­fi­cers who ex­press an in­ter­est”.

It is this un­cer­tainty that is both­er­ing both NUPW pres­i­dent Akanni Mc­dowall and BWU gen­eral sec­re­tary Toni Moore.

Mc­dowall told the Bar­ba­dos Na­tion the memo might be in keep­ing with what the NUPW had asked for “in try­ing to en­sure that this process re­mains as pain­less as pos­si­ble by find­ing al­ter­na­tive ways to achieve the over­all Gov­ern­ment ob­jec­tive of mod­ernising the pub­lic ser­vice”.

Mis­lead­ing

“How­ever,” he added, “again we lack specifics about the se­lec­tion process; that is, are of­fi­cers go­ing to be se­lected by age or years of ser­vice, and what com­pen­sa­tion will be of­fered to of­fi­cers who ac­cept the of­fer? In­deed, this in­for­ma­tion is crit­i­cal if you’re go­ing to be de­cid­ing on your fu­ture. There­fore, the union will con­tinue to re­quest more rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion.” Moore said the memo ap­peared to sug­gest the vol­un­tary pack­ages were agreed to by the BWU.

“The ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil of the Bar­ba­dos Work­ers’ Union wishes to dis­tance it­self from this ap­proach as it re­lates to Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment and statu­tory cor­po­ra­tions.

“Where there is go­ing to be any agree­ment that car­ries the BWU’S sig­na­ture to it would be an agree­ment that spec­i­fied to peo­ple up front what they are en­ti­tled to, when they will be en­ti­tled to it and when it would paid out to them,” said Moore after the union had met Trans­port Board work­ers at Sol­i­dar­ity House.

She noted that while the union was not against vol­un­tary sep­a­ra­tion, she ques­tioned why it was the “lower paid” work­ers who were tar­geted.

Prime Min­is­ter Mia Mot­t­ley, when ques­tioned about the is­sue, said there were lim­ited spa­ces avail­able as Gov­ern­ment could not ex­tend such of­fers to ev­ery­one.

“We can prob­a­bly ac­com­mo­date some­where be­tween 80 and 100 per­sons,” she said after the sign­ing of a US$100 mil­lion loan with In­ter-amer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank pres­i­dent Luis Al­berto Moreno at Gov­ern­ment Head­quar­ters.

“There is a cost to re­trench­ment and, at the end of the day, we recog­nise that at the same time we are re­struc­tur­ing el­e­ments of Gov­ern­ment to make it fis­cally fit, that there may be some per­sons who, for all kinds of rea­sons, may want to go home and that we should use this op­por­tu­nity to be able to make that avail­able to per­sons as well.”

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