What message is being sent?
The worldwide pandemic has put additional strain on our already struggling economy. We are witnessing the beginning of the tough times to come, and now we must question whether our hospital is being properly supported, as it is crucial during this global pandemic.
We have seen pay cuts across the board for government workers, something many in the private sector have experienced as well. The most recent pay cut was 5 per cent for our hospital workers, with their contributions to pensions and social insurance reduced.
In contrast, hospital executives have experienced no reduction in pay and make massive salaries. So could these higher earners take a larger pay cut to take the burden off those who earn less?
Surely, a labour government wants to protect the workers earning the least. There are reports of “strong-arm tactics” used to get the workers to agree to the cut. Where is the highly compensated union top brass in all this? Why have they allowed negotiations under threat?
What message is this government sending while it maintains its consultants, loans out millions of dollars with no guarantee of repayment, and authors a projected deficit of $295 million with no economic plan in sight?
It is noticeably clear that this government is still dragging its feet on curbing its spending and will continue to try to squeeze more out of its workers and taxpayers. Control of government expenditure needs to start at the top. There are many top-earning civil servants, yet it’s always the little guy that takes the largest hits.
Essential workers have taken a pay cut during a time when we need them most. At the very least, they are owed proper negotiation, without the threat of downsizing or other coercion. The treatment they are receiving under the watch of this labour government is appalling and it needs to be rectified.
I understand pay cuts must be made, but the workers cannot be making all the sacrifices while government expenditure increases. We are seeing Covid-19 numbers rising and we may need to rely heavily on our essential workers — yet again. They should not risk their lives while also bearing the brunt of years of government financial mishandling.
I urge the Minister of Finance and the Premier to recommend to the Bermuda Public Services Union that it reconsiders its suggested areas of reduced expenditure and looks for other ways of effecting savings.
• Dwayne Robinson is a former opposition senator and was a candidate for the One Bermuda Alliance in the October 1 General Election