Reform and restructuring are the order of the day in Barbados!
That was Prime Minister Freundel Stuart???s strong message last evening as he addressed those gathered for the National Union of Public Workers??? (NUPW) 70th Annual General Conference at its headquarters at Dalkeith Road.
Mr. Stuart said that during this time of relentless change, public sector reform must become a living thing and the support of the NUPW and the other unions was needed.
Acknowledging that this is a testing period for all citizens, he continued: ???This time requires that Barbadians realise that this downturn is a wake-up call telling us that we cannot continue to wait for some other person or for some other time to make things better.
???We cannot continue to use our education and talents just to find jobs which others are expected to create for us. We must create new jobs. We cannot afford to use a job as a mere pathway to our further development at the expense of the job itself. We must invest productive energy in the jobs that we do.???
The Prime Minister is of the view that all workers must have an interest in and take an active part in the restructuring of the economy and society. He stated that the private sector partners in the Social Partnership must be encouraged to play an active role in the creation of sustainable jobs in creative new enterprises.
He noted that those who were now temporarily unemployed should be encouraged to use all the available facilities at their disposal and he identified some of them as NIS support, the $10 million retraining fund and counselling and financial advice currently being provided by the various agencies.
During his wide-ranging address, Mr. Stuart pointed out that Government???s rental bill for office space for public workers was approaching $80 million per annum and he noted that modern facilities were being provided at a number of locations to alleviate the accommodation problem.
He said there were non-wage/non-salary issues which had engaged the attention of the NUPW in recent times and highlighted one of them as the right of public officers to receive a pension, having been dismissed for misconduct or in circumstances where the post had been abolished.
???The judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice in the Winton Campbell case has presented a particular problem for the Union, in that the Court has decided that pension rights do not accrue immediately on the abolition of a post but that the affected public servant must wait until he or she has attained the pensionable age. Both of these matters continue to engage the Government???s careful attention since the implications for public expenditure cannot be ignored as the pension bill of the Government continues to spiral upwards,??? the Prime Minister maintained.