Opposition Senator Wade Mark said government’s plans concerning workers at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) seem shrouded in secrecy.
His comment, which was made during a UNC press conference on Sunday, follows recent revelations that the Authority will be restructured and some workers laid off.
According to Mark, government’s next move regarding workers at the company appeared to be shrouded in secrecy, as both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, and Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales did not specifically mention any plan in their Budget debate contributions last week.
The Public Utilities Minister only confirmed that staff cuts loomed when asked about reduced funding for NIS contributions for WASA.
Mark said: “It took the UNC through the alertness of the MP for Princes Town to go through the sub items and notice that the NIS contribution which was in 2022/2023 $64 million. They estimated for 2024 at 25 million … They tried to slip it in, without informing the unions. I haven’t heard a statement from one of the unions thus far. So, they have been caught flat-footed as it relates to the intention of the Government.”
He added: “Nobody can argue that if you have an over-staffing problem, you cannot address it. But address it properly, not by stealth, not through secrecy, not by stabbing the workers in their backs. Also, he said, not by failing to engage the trade unions who represent the interests of the workers.
“You have to consult with people before you take these actions. The unions are not begging for consultation they are entitled to be part of the consultative process. If you are going to retrench people, if you say that your staff, the staffing levels is above what is required. If you have a restructuring plan that must be part of a discussion with the relevant unions so that when your plan is finally announced, you have buy-in … And if it does not go properly, then you can go to the courts, the Industrial Court or you can take action,” he said.