Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)

The one-month salary increase being demanded by public sector unions in lieu of salary increase since 2011 works out to be an 8.5 per cent salary increase, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says.

“You see, people are not calculating that when they say oh it’s a one-off payment. It is an eight and a half per cent increase, Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said on radio on Wednesday.

“I leave it to the public to see whether they will consider in these circumstances of the global meltdown which have affected us adversely and all the disasters which have affected us — natural disasters — whether anyone could consider that to be something which could be paid by a government.”

Trade unions representing public sector workers have demanded that the payment be made before the next general elections, expected by year-end.

Last weekend, the union noted that industrial action is still an option and is legal in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Commenting on this, Gonsalves said:

“You know it is a free and democratic country, people can do what they wish to do within the framework of the law. I don’t worry about that and, as you know, industrial relations is one of the areas of my expertise.”

Gonsalves noted that he was one of the first persons at University of the West Indies in Barbados to teach a course in industrial relations and personnel management.

He said that during the negotiations, public servants came originally with a “back-of-the-envelope” proposal that included half and full salaries for public servants of various grades, and consideration for tax-free payment.

He said that when the formal proposal was submitted, “it metamorphosed into a full month salary for everybody and tax free”.

Gonsalves said that the nation’s salary bill is EC$25 million a month and added that the unions’ proposal will cost an additional EC$25 million.

“And given the fiscal situation which we have presented, how could anybody reasonable say that is something which can be sustainable,” Gonsalves said.

“What the press need to do, when it is said that prices have gone up so much over the years and so on, the truth of the matter is this, in some years, recently, prices have gone down, including fuel, which has affected every single area of the cost of living.”

Gonsalves said that president of the Commercial Technical and Allied Workers’ Union, Joseph Burns Bonadie, deals with these types of negotiations and can talk about these things.

“I don’t need to tell you what he will say, because he will know what the facts are because he researches it down with the statistical office with the consumer price index,” Gonsalves said.

Bonadie is also an activist on behalf of the ruling Unity Labour Party and introduced the party’s candidate for Central Kingstown, Beresford Phillips, at the party’s rally in Redemption Sharpes earlier this month.

4 replies on “One-month salary payment is 8.5% wage increase — PM”

  1. Dr. Dexter Lewis says:

    Again, Gonsalves tries to fake us out. The one month’s pay for civil servants is NOT 8.5% increase. If civil servants were getting that extra month each and every year, then that would be true. However they have not had a raise since 2011 and do not expect another for 2-3 more years. So that is 8.5 percent divided by 8 years= about 1%.

    Considering the disaster he has wreaked on the cost of living, 1% cannot compensate.

    Gonsalves talks about the “global meltdown” that has affected us. But the US and Canada and UK have long recovered. Those to whom Gonsalves look for guidance have not recovered: Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador. He just does not know how to get us out of this Argyle swamp he has created.

    The disaster we continue to face is Gonsalves. We must rise up in the next few weeks to solve him.

  2. This man has complete lost his frigging mind! Leave it to the public to see that you came back to parliament to borrow millions of dollars for the Argyle airport, with almost a billion dollars spent and we still don’t have operating international airport and don’t know how the people’s money are being spent. So who is really hypocritical here? Ok mister wisdom and the authority on every, don’t be afraid, please let us know the election date. That’s all we stupid Vincentians are asking of you.

  3. Although I sympathize with the comments made here about the PM’s interpretation of financial and related matter the fact remains that:

    1. Overall, the various public servants and other unionized workers in question are grossly overpaid already, given the wage and income situation of the vast majority of Vincentians who don’t have any of the benefit and pension perks of these government employees.

    2. Though there are many hard-working and dedicated teachers and other government workers, there are hundreds of slackers, place setters, and time keepers — individuals who are paid well above their competence and contribution level but are kept on the payroll for no other reason that they are employed by government in non-politically appointed positions. These sort of people are rarely removed, or even transferred, for reasons of incompetence, indifference, laziness, tardiness, etc., especially if they are well connected. Many of these people would never qualify for a private-sector job or would be terminated in short order if they were ever hired to work in a private-sector job.

  4. This election is going into 2016 because the airport will not be completed for end of year 2015. The minister of Tourism said that Air Canada and West Jet showed some interest, but he said that many years ago. Only when a schedule of planes from Canada, UK and the US is published we will believe the airport is open. Until then all talk is bull shit.

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