President of the Teachers’ Union, Oswald Robinson, has accused Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves of showing scant regard for trade unions amidst the ongoing labour dispute.
Robinson told I-Witness News on Sunday that it is not true, as Gonsalves has said, that the unions did not inform him that they had upgraded their one-month salary payment to a demand.
“The Teachers’ Union informed the prime minister after their branch day [on Sept. 2] of the decision of the membership,” Robinson said.
The Teachers’ Union and the Public Service Union (PSU) say that the government must pay public sector workers before general elections later this year, one month’s salary tax-free in lieu of salary increases since 2011.
The union wrote to the Prime Minister telling him of their decision, but Gonsalves used a press conference to say, “‘Come and let us talk’,” Robinson told I-Witness News.
“It is a professional organisation,” he said of his union.
“So if we correspond with you formally, we expect that same response. And that is what I don’t understand. We have to operate in a way that we demonstrate respect right across the board,” he said.
“We told you what the membership said, but you are answering us in the public. He said he is going to the public. He said that in one of his statements, that he will go to the public and that is what he is doing.”
Robinson said this has been the Prime Minister’s approach since negotiations began in December 2014.
He said the unions reprimanded Gonsalves in a meeting in January, and he apologised.
“But he continued with the same way again,” Robinson said.
The unions have called a strike for Tuesday.
“This is a real bread and butter issue and I am hoping that the workers will really stand up. You can’t give your leadership a mandate and then go against it. It is not going to do any good for the labour movement,” he said of Tuesday’s strike.