Anxious mood at NUPW meeting
THERE WERE MANY glum faces as several public sector workers headed into the National Union of Public Workers’ Dalkeith headquarters yesterday to hear about their future from their trade union representatives.
The union had invited all temporary workers in the public service and statutory boards to a meeting to discuss counter proposals it submitted to the Ministry of the Civil Service as an alternative to government’s proposed lay-off of 3000 public officers. From a mere trickle around 3.15 p.m., the numbers grew appreciably as the 4 p.m. start drew close.
By the time NUPW president Walter Maloney and the union’s general secretary Dennis Clarke strolled into the auditorium, there were few empty seats.
According to a source, among the proposals was one that all public workers volunteer to take a three per cent salary cut to allow government to record savings large enough to protect the threatened jobs.
A high percentage of attendees making their way to yesterday’s meeting was young people, most of them female. One young woman with seven years’ service told the WEEKEND?NATION, “ With all the uncertainty, I don’t know what is up.” The temporary worker added, “If I am laid off, it will mean starting all over again, and I really can’t afford that.”
Similar uncertainty was expressed by a distressed mother of five who said she was prepared to accept a pay cut rather than go home. The single mother who has been employed in the public service as a temporary worker for 11 years pleaded “I need my job. I have a family to support” and she was therefore eager to hear the alternatives being proposed by the union.
None of the attendees interviewed wanted to be identified fearing they could be included among workers selected for layoffs a result. A clerical officer hustling to the meeting minutes before the scheduled start said he decided to attend because he was concerned about the possibility of losing his job. The young man said he had been told there was a proposal for a three per cent pay cut as an alternative to being laid off, and indicated he would gladly have accepted that option if it were presented to him.
There was noticeable representation from across the wide spectrum of the public service, including the School Meals department, general workers and clerical officers, with some people turning up in uniform.