Public servants in Barbados have been warned that they must accept increased taxes announced in the recent budget or go home.
The warning has come from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, amid pressure to rescind the crippling increases to the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), as well as the tax on foreign exchange transactions and increases to the excise duties on petrol.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has threatened to take industrial action if the government does not scrap the tax proposals.
The union also wants a “coping subsidy” for public servants until salary negotiations have been concluded.
Finance Minister, Chris Sinckler was quoted by Barbados Today as saying that the public servants must either accept the taxes or go home.
“I would say that if this really is the union’s position, it is as ill-advised as it is unfortunate at this time. I do not believe that the union leadership is oblivious to the fact that the alternatives to the measures which we introduced, including an increase in the NSRL, will be far more hurtful to public officers than what is proposed,” Sinckler said.
He stated that there is a growing number of persons who believe that the government should immediately and ‘substantially’ reduce the size of the public sector, especially its wages bill.
“Now while that may be coded language for some, it simply means that Government should send home thousands of public servants from the service,” Sinckler said.
He recalled that the administration, which in 2013 severed 3,000 public servants, had rejected this route and had chosen an alternative path, which “we are now hearing that the workers’ representatives don’t want and in fact are threatening industrial action over.