Recently on a Voice of Barbados Talk Show – the government was a no-show – president of the Barbados Economics Society Ryan Straughn stated that government needs to retrench civil servants if it is serious about cutting public expenditure. The government’s fiscal strategy has come under pressure from many quarters in the last three years. There is concern that government’s fiscal deficit needs to be more aggressively managed. It is a fact public sector wages is a significant slice of government’s budget. Clyde Mascoll represented the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and did not challenge the statement uttered by Straughn. BU remains flabbergasted that such a weighty pronouncement by lead spokesman for the Barbados Economics Society (BES) would not have generated significant debate in the country. Traditional media, unions and general populace continue to be consumed by the Alexandra matter.
One is left to speculate why Straughn’s suggestion has not been challenged, supported or discussed by others. It is understandable why the BLP would dippsy doddle around the issue with a general election on the horizon. The same cannot be said for CTUSAB and specifically the NUPW, the trade union which represents the majority of public sector workers in Barbados. Bear in mind Cedric Murrell, the head of CTUSAB as recent as December 2012 served notice that it will press for a public sector wages and salaries agreement in 2012.
The government’s policy position on the matter is known, it intends to protect jobs. In fact Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart defended the need to protect the social fabric of Barbados at the monthly luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) at the Hilton Hotel yesterday [25/01/2012]. Whether one agrees with Straughn, the issue of sending home thousands of workers at this time should stoke debate.