KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Public Service Union members will on Jan. 5 decide what to do as the government asks them wait until June for a further review of the country’s coffers before a decision is made about paying increases owed since January 2011.
Public servants here were due for a 3 per cent increase in salary this year, but the payments were deferred to June, because of the country’s economic situation.
The government has said that the country’s revenue has fallen even as the economy has contracted for three consecutive years, with projections for this year ranging from a decline of 0.4 per cent to growth of 0.8 per cent.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament last week that the payments would be made next June, depending on the country’s fiscal and economic situation.
“Given the prevailing fiscal circumstances, no provisions have been in the estimates for any increase in salaries for public servants,” he told lawmakers during the debate of the 2012 Estimates.
He said that he met with trade unions representing public sector workers on Dec. 9 and the teachers and police unions, along with the Commercial and Technical and Allied Worker Union and the National Workers Movement, have agreed to a review of the situation in June.
However, the PSU told Gonsalves that it would have to consult its members before making a decision
That consultation is scheduled for a Jan. 5 meeting, according to union president Cools Vanloo.
“First of all, we have to deal with whether or not the general membership will accept the postponement,” Vanloo told NBC News on Monday.
“The second part of it has to do with whether or not the other unions, who were also invited to the meeting, are prepared to take any action with respect to any further postponement,” he further said.
“So, we will have to collaborate with these unions and find out,” Vanloo said, adding that he was hoping for another meeting with the government for “further confirmation.
“But if it goes on like that, then I guess the unions will have to meet again and take a position as to whether or not we will accept a further postponement of the 3 per cent that is due in 2011,” he said.
Gonsalves told Parliament last week that a decision regarding a salary increase for 2012 would also be made in June.
“Naturally, we agreed with the unions that the payment [for 2011], if made in 2012, will be made retroactively,” he said.