No use marching
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) will not be engaging the proposed 3 000 Government workers set to lose their jobs in any strike, march or other action of any kind.
This point was made abundantly clear by General Secretary, Dennis Clarke, who spoke to the media right after the conclusion of the Founders’ Day Service at their headquarters yesterday.
He said that there are persons out there who are calling for some form of action to be taken, but these persons do not understand the full nature of the situation.
“Look, there are a number of people out there talking about action. A temporary officer is a worker without any status who does not really and truly have a job. Are you are going to take up people who don’t have a job and put them out there demonstrating? What would they be demonstrating for? Are the same people who want them to march, are they going to come and give them a job if the Government terminates their services?”
Clarke said that even some of those who are calling for action recognise that there is not much that the Union can do.
“This thing is much more delicate than is being put to the John Public out there because one of the persons who is out there advocating said to me on the telephone ‘If the Government is going to cut, there isn’t anything much the Union can do’ – and that is a fact.”
Clarke said that some persons in Barbados have forgotten that this situation has occurred in Barbados before. “All of us in this country forget that in 1982, the Tom Adams Government cut about 3 000 people from the public service. In 1991, they cut about 5 000 people from the public service. [The year] 1991 is different because you had workers who were permanent. Their plight goes that their salaries were being cut by eight per cent, so you had solidarity. You cannot get solidarity in this particular exercise at all,” he contended.
He added that while it is not the best of situations, it is not like in 1991 and the Union would therefore concentrate on how to help both those who keep their jobs, as well as those who are terminated.
“While there are some people who would sympathise, it is not like 1991 and the Union has to know what it is doing and we will not be dictated by people out there who have their own agenda. Our interest is in those people who would go home plus those temporary people who are still working because you have somewhere in the region of 5 500 temporary workers. All would not go home; all cannot go home – so we have to protect the ones who remain and we have to look to see how best we can help the ones that go. Marching would not do that.”