BRIDGETOWN: The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) says it has put forward six proposals to government for talks this week to save the jobs of thousands of public workers who are likely to be retrenched beginning early next month.
The NUPW met with members last Thursday to discuss the announcement by the Freundel Stuart government that the job cuts are part of the strategy to cut government expenditure and revive the ailing economy.
“The workers want to remain on the job, said NUPW general secretary, Dennis Clarke. “The workers don’t want to be laid off and quite frankly that is the main aim of the union, that whatever we do, however we negotiate, we must negotiate a package that sees that the 3,000 workers remain employed in the public service.”
The government said that the first 2,000 job cuts would take place by January 15, followed by others by March 1.
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister, Chris Sinckler, has said that the plan to cut public service jobs would result in the government saving as much as DBS$143 million (One BDS dollar=US$0.50 cents) and that the government had also agreed to institute a “strict program of attrition” across the central public service, filling posts only where it is absolutely unavoidable, over the next five years, ending 2018-2019.
“This attrition is expected to reduce central government employment levels from approximately 16,970 to 14,612 jobs – a projected loss of 2,358 posts; and savings of BDS$121 million,” he said. “Over the current 19-month adjustment period public sector employment will be reduced by an additional 501 jobs with a projected savings of BDS$26 million.”
While the NUPW has not indicated what the proposals are that will be submitted for talks with the government, trade unions have been urging the government to consider salary cuts as an alternative to sending home workers.
Clarke said that the union remains optimistic that it can possibly save the 3,000 public sector jobs.
“We felt so from day one and that feeling has not changed,” he said. “We are heartened by some of the ideas…we had a number of ideas from off the floor and we are going to use a number of those ideas in our presentation to the Ministry of the Civil Service. After we have our first round of talks, we will be in a position to say something definitive.”