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I don’t care which side of the political fence you sit on, and I am even less interested in your politics.
What cannot be disputed is the fact that Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley did what many would opt not to do, or certainly shy away from.
She girded her loins and had the difficult conversation with the public on Sunday evening in her Address To The Nation.
I hardly believe this would have been a conversation anyone would like to have, and certainly it must have been one that she had to psyche herself up for.
Announcing that no more than 1 500 workers would be going home has to be hard for any leader in power for just only four months.
This is a Government which would have won convincingly at the polls, securing all 30 seats in the May 24 General Election. This is also a Prime Minister who would have appealed to the electorate from the political platforms to “give me the vote and watch muh”.
While some may not agree with the course of action that the Government has taken, most agree, though, something had to be done to get this country back on track, protect our dollar and avoid a devaluation. That is on a macro level.
We cannot, however, ignore the social impact of these impending layoffs on individuals. Let’s face it; there will be a domino effect.
Even though some of these jobs may have become obsolete in the public sector, real people are affected, with families who depend on them every day. That is the unfortunate part of this exercise, which will no doubt have wider social implications.
I am, however, happy to hear of the planned household mitigation unit that will be set up to make sure no individual falls below a minimum standard of living.
This is going to be crucial, going forward, but what will be equally important is making sure that the right people are part of this unit. These individuals must by nature be caring in order to interact with those families and individuals who are affected by the upcoming cuts.
Undoubtedly this is a sensitive matter which will require those who possess the “soft skills” that are so important these days in any sphere of business or customer relations.
And, while I do not want to seem uncaring, the reality is that the numbers in the Civil Service would have been inflated coming up to elections. So really, the numbers could balance out each other.
Truth is, this country can no longer afford to continue on this path without hard decisions being made. To do nothing would be tantamount to seeing the demise of this island, I believe.
Already this week, since the announcement of the layoffs, documents have gone viral detailing the categories of workers that would be affected, as well as the departments which will come under the “scalpel”.
It is important for Government officials to ensure that the accurate information goes out to the public. As one PR practitioner puts it, control the narrative.
God knows there will be a lot of information being shared in coming weeks. Our job too in the media is to ensure we get it right and ensure the critical issues come to the fore because lives and livelihoods are at stake.
Layoffs, whether in the public or private sector, are not an easy matter to deal with. But then again, the current state of the Barbados economy is not an easy fix either.
My only hope, going forward, is that every effort is made to cushion the blow to those who will be affected. (CM)