The Public Service Union (PSU), on Monday, submitted to the government a new proposal for salary increases for public sector workers, less than a week after it said the government had offered its first salary increase since 2011.
President of the PSU, Elroy Boucher, told I-Witness News that the PSU is asking for a 1.5 per cent retroactive salary increase for 2014, 2.5 per cent for 2015, and 2 per cent for 2016.
The members are willing to forgo salary increases for 2012 and 2013, Boucher said.
Boucher told a news conference on Wednesday that the government had offered 2.5 per cent retroactive salary increase for 2015, to be paid on Dec. 18, and 2 per cent for 2016.
The PSU had a meeting of its members on Friday to inform them of the government’s proposal.
“The membership was briefed on the entire meeting we had with the government, every detail, including the discussion on the 4.5 per cent – very intense discussion.
“In the end, the members took the decision that they will not forgo all three years. Remember previously there was the thinking that you should forgo 2012, 2013, and 2014 and based on that they were having the decision on 15 and 16.
“They said that as a compromise, they will forgo 12 and 13 but they need compensation for 14, 15 and they will include 16,” Boucher told I-Witness News on Monday.
He said over 50 persons attended the meeting for which 25 persons were needed to constitute a quorum.
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The union wrote to the Director General of Finance and Planning, Boucher said, “bearing in mind that the Prime Minister … said at the meeting that the Director General is the person responsible for negotiations on behalf of the government, which is quite interesting, because that has not been the practice.”
The letter was copied to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, and trade unionist and advisor to the government on labour issues, Joseph Burns Bonadie, who brokered a meeting between the government and the trade unions last week after a breakdown in negotiations.
Bonadie said in his letter to the trade unions that Gonsalves is likely in his “customary announcements” today, Independence Day, to announce what Boucher described as “goodies for public servants”.
But the PSU head said he does not see a salary increase for public sector workers as a perk.
“In fact, the whole approach that was taken to deal with this is a grave concern to me. You are expected to go to the meeting, the prime minister was saying he is not going to declare what he has in his head — you are expected to take that and agree on it and then leave.
“Suppose that was a 1 per cent and you announce a 1 per cent increase, the membership will crucify you. So, it’s out of lack of respect for the trade unions to expect the leadership of unions to accept that sort of arrangement. You must communicate back to your membership. It’s very important to make the decision.”
Bonadie told I-Witness News on Friday that Boucher broke protocol when he announced the disaggregation of the 4.5 per cent salary increase for 2015 and 2016, saying no such agreement was arrived at.
But Boucher told I-Witness News that he was protecting the union and workers from being used as political tools.