Public workers will have to wait a while longer before they can receive their increase in salary and retroactive payments that were agreed upon by the former Tillman Thomas Administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
In an agreement signed last year, the workers are due to receive four percent increase for 2009 by the end of May, two percent for 2012 to be paid in December, a one-off payment for 2010 by July, and a one-off payment for 2011 by August.
In an address to the nation last week Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell announced that a revised time table for increased payments that are due to public officers must urgently be discussed because his administration is strapped for cash.
He warned that if the economy does not begin to grow then the ruling New National Party (NNP) government will not be able to meet current obligations, far more retroactive payments to public servants.
Dr. Mitchell who also holds the portfolio of Finance Minister said in the preparation of the national budget that was presented on Tuesday it was discovered that government is required to pay almost $38m in salary increases and retroactive payments to public officers this year.
“This payment schedule is simply impossible,” he told the nation.
He said the budget, presented in Parliament Tuesday, would launch the country’s economic revival after several years of economic decline.
The Prime Minister felt that some of the national assets that were sold by the previous government could have been used as leverage.
He said he would be calling on the unions and public servants to continue to work together with his government on the issue of salary increases.
Just over a month ago, Grenada defaulted on payment of EC$19 million due to bondholders and announced that it was seeking to renegotiate with creditors the island’s debt estimated at EC$2.4 billion.
Meanwhile, newly elected President of the Public Workers Union (PWU), Adrian Francis said his newly elected executive will adopt a wait and see approach before offering any reaction to Prime Minister Mitchell’s intention to seek a revised time table for increased payments to be made to Public Officers.
Francis told THE NEW TODAY the fact that Dr. Mitchell has signaled his intention to first dialogue with the affected Trades Unions, it is only fair that they first hear what he has to say before any statement on the matter can be made.
“After such meeting (with Dr. Mitchell), then we would have a meeting with our membership, and then we will make a statement to the Press,” he said.
Apart from PWU, the other bargaining agents for public sector employees are the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) and the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU)