Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott. (FP)

The Social Partnership and others will be consulted before Government proceeds to place top civil servants on contract.

Government Ministers, Colin Jordan and Senator Jerome Walcott, gave this assurance yesterday as they spoke to the issue on VOB’s Sunday Brass Tacks with moderator Glyne Murray, himself a former Minister. 

Mr. Walcott, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, stressed the matter of contracts was just at the proposal stage and that of a discussion paper that had not been yet brought to Cabinet.

He added that it was Government’s intention to have discussions with the Social Partnership, as well as engagements with the Permanent Secretaries (PSs) group and the labour unions.

Dr. Walcott, who further noted that contracting persons was nothing new, acknowledged this had been so for several chief technical officers.

Listing the recent appointments of the Chief Medical Officer, the Chief Agricultural Officer and the Comptroller of Customs among these, he said: “This is something that has been ongoing; certainly in our time from 2005 and when I look back in the history of Barbados, I believe that you would recognise that there have been technical officers, in various areas, that have come from other countries and have been on contract.”

Senator Walcott, however, stated that the issue with PSs on contract had now to be discussed as there were concerns about pensions, the contract you might get and gratuity.

Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan. (FP)

“These are some of the issues: if you take, for example, a contract; you take a post as a contract and your contract is terminated, will you be allowed to come back to your substantive post that you had?” he shared, adding Government figured it would bring a system of greater transparency with people appointed on merit and qualification, competencies and experience, versus seniority and selection, as happens now.

While he noted that Jamaica and Guyana had PSs on contract, he said Barbados was also examining what was happening in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Meanwhile, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, echoing similar sentiments, maintained that the practice of Government engaging people would continue and consultations with unions and other partners could be expected within a month or two on the matter.

Admitting he was not making the call on that, he said: “We now have sight of the position paper and we have to go through it in some detail before we can start to sit down and discuss it. So, we are reading through, understanding the paper that has been submitted to us, and once we have that, then we go to our partners and we start to have the discussion.” 

The Labour Minister, however, stressed he did not foresee this being a prolonged process.

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