Government Ministers deserve to be recognised for their own sacrifices made throughout the life of the Structural Adjustment Programme and should get more than $1000.
This was stated Tuesday by Economic Development Minister and Minister of Labour, Oliver Joseph while addressing a sitting of the House of Representatives at the Trade Centre at Morne Rouge.
His comments came against the backdrop of government’s decision to pay public officers a one-off payment at the end of April to settle salary negotiations with the Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU).
As part of the deal, government promised to pay the workers more money in July if the fiscal space allows them to do so.
According to Minister Joseph, the $1000 payment is only for civil servants and does not include Members of Parliament.
“…It does not include ministers…not that we did not make sacrifices because I think we make more sacrifices but we said the workers deserved their share and we forego the $1000 Mr. Speaker to demonstrate the sacrifices that we were asked to make”, he said.
“…People might think we getting the $1000, which we deserve and I think we should get…and we deserve more but that’s how it is. We are not unionised and I asked (a) certain trade union President to represent me, make a representation on my behalf because I am not entitled to annual vacation leave, not entitled to no increments, I’m not entitled to no increase in salary…all I’m doing is making sacrifice…I hope it will be recognised one day”, he added.
The Labour Minister who is a former Executive member of PWU congratulated the unions for doing what is needed of them in the negotiations with government on behalf of their membership.
“We must commend the unions Mr. Speaker for (their) understanding for this matter because if the union takes the traditional favour, we want more for our workers, we want more and take industrial action then we would not have the peace and calm that we have in this country”, he remarked.
“…Over the last four years, Mr. Speaker we have not had a single case of industrial unrest in this country. So, I want to congratulate the unions for their understanding of the situation because we have to take the measures necessary to bring fiscal stability back and so we negotiated with the PWU/TAWU and only yesterday (Monday) Mr. Speaker we signed off on the agreement with the Public Workers Union and TAWU, so all the unions are now signed on to the agreement,” he said.
The agreement reached between the two parties state that for the year 2013- 2016 there will be a one-off payment of $1000 and there will be salary increases of 3% for 2017, 3% for 2018 and 4% for 2019.
Minister Joseph explained to Parliament the nature of the agreement on the $1000.00 one-off payment.
“We made a commitment to the union in writing that more will be paid in July because the union is saying we need something more for our members given the sacrifice that they have to make and they want it in writing. So we say that more will be paid in July if the fiscal space allows,” he said.
The one-off payment will be paid by the end of April and according to the Labour Minister, this payment coupled with what was paid out before is costing taxpayers $8 million.