BARBADOS: Govt signals shift from ‘forced’ to ‘cooperative’ savings

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(Barbados Today) – The Government’s plan to compulsorily save a portion of public workers’ pay has taken a new turn. It is to become a “National Meeting Plan” – a nod to the age-old practice of personal savings pools – and trade unions have been told to come up with a way to put it into practice, Barbados TODAY has learned.

Government gave trade unions until the end of next month to deliberate the proposed meeting plan during a three-hour long meeting of the Social Partnership today.

President of the National Union of Public Workers Akanni McDowall said the information received at the meeting would be first discussed with union members before any decisions were made.

He told Barbados TODAY: “The discussion was around a National Meeting Plan; it’s no longer called a forced savings plan. Some information was shared with the union and what we would like to do at this point is to meet with our individual committees so that we can share that information with them and then we will have a broader discussion with the general membership and then eventually the public.

“They said that they would like us to conclude our meetings and our internal discussions by the end of June.”

While describing the meeting as “cordial”, the union leader said he could not go into details as to what transpired before meeting with their members.

McDowall said: “I believe generally that we had a cordial discussion. The points that public servants would have wanted us to raise in the meetings I believe that those points were made.

“Now it is up to us to take back all of the information to our members and see what they decide and obviously we can communicate that to the Government and by extension the public.”

Speaking during a virtual service of thanksgiving on Sunday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said discussions were set to continue surrounding a National Pandemic Solidarity Bonds offer.

She insisted she was not in favour of cutting the wages of public servants.

Mottley said: “We are not interested in cutting persons’ pay but we are interested in creating a scenario where we can carry as many Barbadians as possible.

“To that extent therefore, what we’re proposing is a form of forced savings, what I’m now going to call a national meeting turn.

“And believe you me, every public servant and every person who is paid by Government will receive their full salary package.”

Mottley said while the majority will be paid in cash, Government will also be asking some workers to look at bonds that will carry interest rates of five per cent.

The Prime Minister said: “The Government is going to have to be the one driving the capital works programme in Barbados, dealing with water, dealing with roads, dealing with cleaning the country, dealing with building gabions, dealing with fixing schools that are the subject of environmental problems every week, or other facilities that Government has that literally are in bad need of repair”.

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