“ON POINT: Workers deserve better”

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Sad and unfortunate! That is the only way I can describe the mess going on in the public sector regarding the recent layoffs.

In fact, I am not even sure what is really happening.

Are the workers on, or off?

I know as a journalist I should be answering questions for our readers and not asking, but in this case, I crave your indulgence and forgiveness.

In my column last Thursday, I appealed to those who will have to engage those who will be sent home as part of Government’s restructuring of the public service, to show care when executing their jobs. Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that from the very start of the cuts, workers themselves would be unclear as to where they stand.

We understand that workers were only told they were being sent home verbally – word of mouth – and were never handed letters, or given their cheques.

Now, I recall Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley in her Address To The Nation stating that workers would be going home with their cheques in hand.

Well, far from receiving the cheques, they never even got their walking papers. Now, how could this be? Isn’t something wrong with this?

That brings me to Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn. Now, I don’t always agree with the outspoken leader of the Unity Workers’ Union. However, last Friday when he spoke out against the “callous dismissal” of some workers, I couldn’t help but agree with the advice he gave those affected.

Franklyn told those who were terminated by word of mouth to go back to work on Monday since they could not be dismissed without a letter.

Why would Government bungle this, especially when just days ahead of the layoffs, the Prime Minister promised Barbadians that the exercise would be carried out in a humane way?

She did, however, give some room, noting that things might not go perfectly.

First and foremost, we should recognise that workers would have been on tenterhooks from the time the impending layoffs were announced, wondering if they would come under the “scalpel” of the Government.

Many of them might have also been anxiously awaiting Friday, “D-Day”, when the cuts were to be made.

So imagine the butterflies, anxiety and nervousness many would have felt as they went through Friday waiting for the clock to hit 4 or 4:30 p.m. Then to be called and just told their services would no longer be required.

We can easily reason that some of these people who were “let go” verbally, have families who depend on them. But let’s not get sentimental on this issue because everyone has someone who depends on them.

The point is, Government needs to relook its execution of this exercise. Perhaps the new Employment Rights Act could offer some assistance. (CM)