The debate surrounding the possible dismissal of public sector workers was one of the heated topics during the political campaign, leading up to the January 25th elections this year. At that time however, there were counter claims from the two main parties on St. Kitts, the incumbent Labour Party and the Opposition Peoples Action Movement, that if either party was to win, this would become the fate of the workers.
With the recent termination of over 150 workers from the St. Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority, in September, the topic of further government job losses has again raised its political head.
Now, the leader of the Peoples Action Movement, Mr. Lindsay Grant, in a press release issued by his party, is making the case that the layoffs are coming, “After years of gross mismanagement by this Denzil Douglas led labour government”.
Grant went on to say that this is why the country now finds itself in a very dire economic state.
The release claimed that, “Never before in our country’s history, in any similar period, has any government had to lay-off or terminate hundreds of civil servants. This is unprecedented and it shows the very dire economic situation our country is currently facing.”
The PAM also used the press release to allege that, “Douglas just after being elected to office in the 2010 January 25th General Election, announced that the end of September will see hundreds of civil servants being sent home, as part of the government’s new initiative, to combat a spiralling and stifling national debt, brought about by years of government mismanagement and wastage.”
At the end of September this year, the assertion is that hundreds of civil servants have in fact been sent home, as part of an IMF austerity measure to address the National Debt Crisis.
PAM maintains that the IMF in a report before the elections had recommended that the government’s payroll had to be cut by at least 1/3. There are currently 5,000 civil servants employed by the government, 1/3 of which will amount to 1,500.
It is said in the PAM release that, the Prime Minister indicated at a recent press conference, that some 300 will be sent home. PAM is of the view however, that “Such a tiny number is unlikely to put even a dent in the 41% of government revenue spent on wages, salaries and pensions, which the IMF has declared as unacceptably high.”
The private sector has also seen job cuts with over 250 workers laid off last week, at the Reeds Data Services, RDS, located at the island’s Paul Southwell Industrial Park. The company operated in St. Kitts for well over 25 years, (though at one time under a different name).
“Economists have suggested that more lay-offs are expected over the next year and this coupled with the introduction of the 17% VAT in November, will cause undue and extremely burdensome hardships on the poor and even middle class people of the federation”, stated the PAM release.
The government has however not provided any comment or clarification on the charges being made by the opposition Peoples Action Movement.