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EDITORIAL – Work: the only ground to stand on

marciadottin, [email protected]

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GOD KNOWS, nobody wants to see people unemployed – certainly not in these hard times. Losing one’s pick is not an option; job security is everything.So when workers unions and employers are able to come to terms on such, you might think that making it difficult for people to be fired or just made redundant would be great for morale. It seems not so.Few things are worse for morale than having to do – along with yours – the work of others, who make little effort.You have as a consequence a group that will not function – or at best not do a full day’s work, and a faithful productive few who eventually fall victim to burnout and inertia from carrying out their colleagues’ tasks.This is a grand recipe for fallen productivity and bad service to the customer. And there has been no greater culprit than the public sector.The trouble is once you express concern with the modus operandi of the slackers therein, the staff unions rush to the fore with the gusto of a bull in a china shop, goring whom they may in their rage.Truth be told, the unions have done sterling work over the years and have represented outstandingly. But that does not validate their overwhelming compassion for the non-producers.It is not unknown that Government ministers have had to get around public service languor by privatising and contracting out. The problem never seems to be confronted.Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is urging increased productivity – across the board. He was careful to make it a national call. But the public sector, over whom Mr Stuart presides, should be his first target audience. The public sector now more than ever needs to come to grips with the fact that productivity remains key if, as the Acting Prime Minister rightly says, Barbados is to avoid economic disaster.Productivity Council chairman Anthony Johnson blames failed parenting for the low productivity everyone is talking about. We have to “get back to basics and look at the home . . . the church . . . the school . . . ” .“We have to revamp what they stand for, and we have to apply principles,” he says.Well, we are adding to Mr Johnson’s list the state. For there is really no good reason why an organisation should perform less well merely because it is in the ownership of the Government.The cause of public sector underperformance may be linked to an outdated promotions system, guaranteed increases every two years or so – conditions not rooted in performance but in bargaining. No one can be sacked for incompetence.Who is going to do anything about the sloth? Which politician? Which unionist?As we said at the start, nobody wants to see people out of work; but the work there must be sustainable. And as Mr Stuart has emphasised, productivity is the key.