The Caswell Franklyn Column – DLP Preparing to Fool Public Servants a Third Time
The Barbados Today of February 5, 2018 reported that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced that thousands of public servants, who had been working for three or more years, would receive their official appointments by March 1st. That announcement was made the previous night at a Democratic Labour Party meeting.
Over the years, I have come to the realisation that statements or promises made at political branch meetings are intended for the consumption of the party faithful; they should not be relied upon or taken seriously by the general public. This time around I hope that this particular promise would turn out to be an exception.
But after reading further, I started to become nauseated. The article went on to state that the PM dismissed calls, from leading economists, to lay off public sector workers in order to curb spending, saying that he found the “stench” of that suggestion offensive.
He further declared that he would never resort to dismissing civil servants in a desperate attempt to save the economy. I well recall that the Government dismissed 3,000 temporary workers between June and December 2013, and a further 3,000 souls were shown the door in 2014, all in an effort to save the economy.
This apparent Saul to Paul transformation of the PM led him to continue to assure his supporters by saying: “I do not accept and will never accept that when the Barbados economy gets into trouble that workers are to be the fall guys in this exercise all the time to bring it back to respectability”. I am sure that workers would welcome his change of heart. However, he continued to lay it on thick by saying: “We have to find other ways to ensure that we can correct our problems. If the workers have done nothing wrong, why should they be victims to all of this?”
The country heard similar sentiments prior to the 2013 general elections but once the elections were over, Government could not move swiftly enough to rid itself of 6,000 voters, oops, I mean workers. Why should public workers expect to be treated any differently this time around?
At section 8 of their 2008 manifesto, the DLP promised public servants that they would restore their pensions that were eliminated by a previous DLP administration. That pledge has not been honoured. Additionally, at section 21, they promised duty free cars for personal use for designated public officers. Thus far those designated public officers have turned out to be the general secretaries of the two major trade unions.
In 2013 public workers were promised that there would be no lay-offs. We are painfully aware that the promise was honoured in the breach.
Now in 2018, in an effort to woo the public servants, the DLP is promising to appoint thousands of temporary officers who have been employed for three or more years. That can only be a sick joke being played on public officers.
In the dying days of the Arthur administration, parliament passed the Public Service Act. At section 13.(7) that act provided that all temporary officers, who were employed for three or more years prior to December 31, 2007, would be entitled to be appointed, if they had the necessary qualifications. Thereafter, at section 13.(11) the act provides that no established office in the Public Service shall remain vacant for more than one year. Why is the time being extended to three years?
The DLP has ignored that law and is making out that waiting three years for an appointment is somehow better than waiting for one year. Worse yet, they want to be rewarded at the polls for delaying public officers’ lawful claims for appointments, until it suited the DLP. They are not doing anybody any favours; they are merely complying with a 2007 law that they opposed.
There is a saying: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. The DLP has already fooled public workers in two consecutive elections with unfulfilled election promises, and is now seeking to make fools of them a third time.
I can only conclude that the DLP believes that public workers are so imbecilic that there is no need to lead them to the slaughter like lambs, that they would just walk there on their own.