Thursday 29 October, 2020

Barbados not 'out of the woods yet' with BERT programme

(File Photo)

(File Photo)

Labour Minister, Colin Jordan has advised Barbadians to hold strain as government commences Phase Three of the Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme. 

The final phase of the restructuring of government operations is set to get underway on April 1 this year and will last for 18 months.  

The first two phases of BERT saw approximately 1,000 public servants in Central Government issued with walking papers. Jordan said Phase Three will only focus on the state-owned enterprises (SOE’s).  

Minister Jordan made the announcement during a debate on the Employment Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the House of Assembly. 

“That is not good news because this government does not treat retrenchment as just something that had to be done … I mentioned it to say to the country and to those workers in central government, we have been assured that process has been completed.”  

Minister Jordan said there was still more work to be done in the BERT programme as the government commences Phase Three, noting the country was “not of out the woods at this point”.   

“We are close to the end of that painful process but we are not yet there.” 

In a document obtained by Loop News which had been circulated to civil servants last October, 26 SOE’s were listed to be restructured in the final phase with some to be divested to the private sector, to be shut-down completely or incorporated into other entities.   

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The document had stated that the restructuring of larger SOE’s such as the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and the Transport Board will spread over two years, to come to an end in June 2020.  

Jordan also issued a warning to trade unions, warning them that this was not “the time for games”. 

“I want to say to those organizations, especially those representing workers, this is not time for brinkmanship. We are still in a serious struggle for our country.” 

“This program represents a journey, we have the destination in sight but we have not yet reached the destination. I want to say to all Barbadians- let us stay the course.”

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