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St. Clair leacock

MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, a vice-president of the New Democratic Party. (File photo)

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The opposition New Democratic Party was not involved in the recent negotiations between the government and trade unions that led to a 7% increase in salary, but says it played a role in the outcome.

NDP Vice-President, St. Clair Leacock, who is acting as party leader, said the party recognised the accomplishment of the unions in securing the salary increase.

He said that while the NDP “quietly or not so quietly stayed in the background, let no one fool you, … the politics and the pressures of the president, executive and membership of the New Democratic Party on the government of the day, has played its role in this exercise”.

Speaking on the party’s programme on NICE Radio, on Monday, Leacock said that the NDP has been “in the vanguard for years highlighting the fact” that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration, a labour government, can hardly provide evidence of their “labourness”.

The ULP has not recognised the value of collective bargaining for nearly 20 years, Leacock said, adding that NDP has highlighted this on many of its platforms.

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“And even a Labour government of the nature of the ULP can’t be devoid of conscience when it is necessary for their own survival,” he said.

Leacock said that the government’s back was “against the wall because they have been waging a war against the trade union movement, they have been waging a war to try to keep the trade union movement from having them in courts every Monday morning for a range of legitimate actions”.

He said that the unions have been very robust and representational of their members.

Trade unions
From left: Gweneth Baptiste-Stoddard, 1st vice president of the PSU, Elroy Boucher, president of the PSU, Oswald Robinson, president of the SVG Teachers’ Union, and Corporal Germano Douglas, chair of the Police Welfare Association brief the media on Sept. 20, 2022 about the outcome of the negotiations.

Leacock further said that the NDP has said that it will reinstate the hundreds of workers who were fired under the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“…  they in the Unity Labour Party know that they have something coming at them and that something that’s coming at them is the New Democratic Party,” Leacock said.

“Whether persons who have been dismissed as teachers want to vote for the ULP again because their umbilical cord is so tied, is not our business. But we have a charge to represent the greatest good of the greatest number and that we can lend support to stakeholders, important stakeholders, like the trade union movement, in their just and legitimate cause,” Leacock said.

He said that while applauding the trade unions, “we don’t have to be waiting any flags, we don’t have to be beating any drums, we don’t have to be blowing any trumpets and we don’t have to be parading because, ultimately, we know that their success is that of the NDP in that we are conjoined in this issue of advancing the cause of the working class in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

He said he was addressing the matter with all the care that one has to.

Leacock said that the NDP is glad that the workers “got something” out of the salary negotiations.

“It is our prerogative to say we are sorry that they didn’t get what they deserve. But we are exceedingly glad that they got something,” he said, adding that the NDP found that a 10% increase in salary “was a fair ask”.

Leacock said:

“And had the NDP been in office, our offering would have been much greater than that of the 7%. There is this fixation, and this is not pointing fingers here, where we continue to have this notion that 7 is greater than 10.”

The union leaders have said that while they had asked for a 9% increase, 7% was reasonable.

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