by TONY BEST
MINISTER OF TOURISM RICHARD SEALY says more jobs are in the offing in the promotion, marketing and further development of Barbados.
His reassurances come as the Thompson Administration moves to restructure the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) by creating two new separate agencies, one to market the destination, and the other to further develop the tourism product.
Sealy explained in New York that the Government was in discussions with both the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) about the impact the reorganisation plans would have on BTA employees and civil servants who would be affected by the changes.
“No worker is going to be disadvantaged, full stop,” Sealy said. “We are not using this as some excuse to get rid of people, and it is not our intention to in any way disadvantage anyone.”
The proposed new structure calls for the creation of a Barbados (Tourism) Product Authority and a Barbados Marketing entity, with the Ministry of Tourism providing an overarching monitoring and “umbrella” function, all of which would have implications for existing and new employees.
“Given the fact that we are going to need more people to really and truly run these two institutions, we should not be looking at laying off anyone,” he asserted.
“I can’t pre-empt what the final thing would ultimately look like, but we are going to need more people to work these institutions. We are not going to need less people. I don’t think the layoff thing is much of a discussion.”
With some civil servants likely to move to the new and streamlined statutory corporations, their rights as Government employees “must be preserved,” he said. That was why the Ministry of the Civil Service was participating in the talks to ensure that employee’s rights were preserved.
Sealy said that the Government intended to learn from and avoid “the messy situation” that developed when the previous Government reorganised the management structures and system of employment of workers at both the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Grantley Adams International Airport.
“I am not going to see a similar thing occur [at the BTA],” he said. “We are going to consult with the workers, consult with the unions, and we are going to get the model right and implement (the new structures) in a way that no one is disadvantaged at the level of the workers and that the country gets what it deserves, that is streamlined, effective institutions that are championing the industry that is really propping up our economy.”
He was quick to add, though, that “any separation arrangements” that might affect workers “would have to be fair” when the new institutions became a fact of life “would obviously again have to be done that no one is in any way disadvantaged.”
Those factors explain, he says, why the reorganisation, which was announced several months ago, hasn’t been implemented.