CASTRIES: The National Workers Union (NWU) has expressed concern about the number of jobs being lost.
The NWU says it is extremely unfortunate that St. Lucia has failed to grasp timely opportunities to structure a plan aimed at job security and economic stabilization.
“Over the last 24 months we at the National Workers Union have been monitoring the situation in the country, especially since the financial crisis of 2008, and we are very concern about the direction we see the country heading as it relates to job losses and redundancies,” said Solace Mayers, Deputy President General. “We have seen the trend via our membership and there is also evidence at the national level. So our concern is related to the future of the country and its workforce, what exactly will happen to the increasing number of persons on the breadline.”
The NWU says stakeholders in the industry must come together and devise a plan to arrest the crisis before it gets any worse.
Mayers said the union cannot ignore the fact that the jobs lost are the ones that have sustained workers over the years, and many businesses are recording economic erosion not being able to meet traditional targets.
“When you have such a large number of people in search of jobs it impacts a number of national institutions,” said Mayers. “These people were in good paying jobs, making contributions to National Insurance, paying their water and electricity bills on time, in addition to their mortgage and loan commitments. But if they are on the breadline that suggests that these contributions are not being made, and the financial implications of that would ripple across the country. So just painting that scenario is troubling and we need to move urgently to save the country from a certain downward spiral.”
As a result of the layoffs and closures of businesses within the past two years, the national employment level has risen to over 25 per cent, with an estimated 17,000 young people jobless. The International Labour Organisation says the situation is not expected to improve anytime soon given the global trend.
In 2012, an assessment of the country’s labour market revealed that 60 per cent of the labour market lacked secondary education and, as a result, the skills needed for gainful employment.