By Kenton X. Chance
The Unity Labour Party administration may be in for a rough ride this year as far as labour relations are concerned.
iWitness News understands that at least two of the trade unions representing public sector workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will file legal challenges to the manner in which the government has been making appointments and giving promotions among public sector workers.
Information reaching us is that the Public Service Union is taking the Public Service Commission (PSC) to court, seeking judicial review as it relates to how the commission promotes workers.
The union is convinced that the PSC violates the relevant regulations, which detail how promotions should be done, a source told iWitness News.
The union will challenge the violation of the regulations, in principle, but will cite five cases in support of its challenge.
The source, who was not authorized to speak on the matter, said that the cases are very good examples, but did not detail them, telling iWitness News that the union might make a public statement soon.
iWitness News further understands that the union will also challenge a series of promotions that have taken place at the Ministry of Agriculture.
iWitness News was reliably informed that the Teachers Union will bring a similar challenge and that there are discussions within the Police Welfare Association about a similar challenge, although that trade union might not be allowed to advocate in the same manner.
Sources with information about the inner workings of the public sector unions told iWitness News that some members of the trade union community are advocating a push for a wage increase this year, but others are not convinced that the government is in a position to grant one, in light of the country’s fiscal situation.
In October 2015, the Teachers’ Union and the Public Service Union called a one-day strike as part of efforts to force the government to pay before general elections — held in December 2015 — one month’s salary tax-free in lieu of salary increases since 2011.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Ralph Gonsalves, however, announced during his independence address on Oct. 27 that year a 2.5 per cent salary increase for 2015, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, which was paid on Dec. 18, 2015, nine days after general elections.