Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that his government has not suspended talks with trade unions discussions about a one-month, tax-free salary payment in light of the absence of a wage increase for public sector workers since 2011.
Gonsalves told Parliament on Tuesday that the talks have been shelved until his government’s financial situation improves.
Head of the Teachers Union, Oswald Robinson, told I-Witness News this week that his union has suspended talks with the government on the matter.
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The decision came after a meeting last Friday, in which Gonsalves told the Teachers Union and three other unions that his government will not be able to make the payment this year.
“Mr. Speaker, I just want to say this: in relation to emoluments, there was discussion just on Friday with the public servants. I indicated to them that at the current time we are not in a position to pay the one month salary which they asked, which will amount to 25 million dollars, public servants, teachers, etc.,” Gonsalves said while responding to a question tabled by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace about the fiscal outturn during the first half of the year.
Gonsalves said negotiations with the Police Welfare Association concerning allowances are “on a different track and that we will keep the matter under review”.
“I have seen a report where it said the teacher said they have suspended discussion. There was no question of a suspending of the discussions. We just agreed that we wouldn’t meet again unless there was some change in the circumstances. So if there is a representation that there was a suspension, the meeting was held in a cordial spirit, and, as I say, the matter continues to be under review,” Gonsalves told Parliament.