Who’s fooling who?

The blame game started by those in authority and the feud continues. The use of high-handed approach and intimidation tactics from the present administration is plain and simple for all to see bullying the trade union movement hoping that they will bend and accept their little offer of 2 percent didn’t work at all.

I want us to do analytical thinking and ask ourselves the question, who’s responsible for “kicking the can down the road”? I have seen many dreadful errors that were made on both sides, for example, the (GUT) “rest and relaxation in contemplation of pension” and (PWU) “calculation of gratuity” was all wrong approaches. By doing so, they all violated the Grenada Labour Code because there are no such things written in it regarding the stance they’ve taken under the aforementioned title or heading.

Was it the government’s Pension Engagement Committee or public sector trade unions that were responsible for the deterioration of negotiations?

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed before the 2018 general elections between the government and trade union movement, we have heard that it’s not legally binding, but as long as a team of individuals sat on a negotiation table and agreed to certain principles and affixed their signature to a document or mutual agreement, it’s legally binding regardless to what government officials may say because in most instances it is legally binding.

Some share the view that the unions were duped by the government’ Pension Engagement Committee, I too share the same sentiments as those who felt the Unions were duped based on government’s behaviour throughout the ongoing crisis.

Government’s offer of 2 percent gratuity over 12.5 years was and is unacceptable and unconstitutional therefore the loggerheads continued even after the government offered an 8 percent gratuity over an eight-year period – that too was unconstitutional because public servants are entitled to 25 percent based on the calculative formula.

On numerous occasions we have heard government officials lamenting that someone should show them how the 25 percent comes about and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out based on the calculations that are stipulated in the various Pension Acts Full Pension multiplied by 12.5 multiplied by 0.25 = Gratuity, Full Pension increased by 0.75 = Reduced Pension.

When the Prime Minister gave his national address to the nation and said his administration “stands resolutely committed to affording public service retirees a better quality of life.” Does this statement reflect his actions because it tells something different?

Many blistering and vitriolic attacks were hurled at public servants especially toward our nation’s educators likewise trade union leaders. The attacks and abuses came from the political leadership along with the various MPs that were out for the kill because they were all-out to slaughter public servants in the most disrespectful and demeaning way possible just because they stood up and speak out against the injustices that were being done to them.

The government continues to lament “that they’re ready to resolve this issue,” but this is far from the truth because of the high-handed approach and intimidation tactics being used by government.

The former attorney general (AG) Sir Lawrence has penned many articles which to me was in defence of the present administration – he argued on many issues relating to pension and gratuity, he even spoke on the Pension Disqualification Act, and he also gave an explanation and justified why public servants that came in the system after 1983 aren’t entitled to pension and gratuity.

The level of propaganda that was being broadcast on electronic media by the Pension Engagement Committee, Ministry of Finance officials, MP Oliver Joseph and Minister of Education they all contributed negatively, which to me was a big failure that didn’t meet their goals and objectives.

They were only shooting themselves in the legs over and over inflicting more injuries.

Fiscal Responsibility Act, Fiscal Space is being used as a tool of disenfranchisement by government and Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee (FROC) against public servants.

The leadership has a lot of pent up emotions and, whenever he demits office, this long drawn out battle will linger on for years to come.

My overall conclusion is that the present administration led by Dr Keith Mitchell is the ones responsible for “kicking the can down the road” and they had no intentions of solving the issues that were before them and therefore they’ve allowed the escalation to take place without seeking to redress it.

They’ve made a mockery of themselves and the unions by leading them to believe they can resolve the pension and gratuity issue through the process of pension reformation.

How can you reform gratuity when it’s constitutional when it states nothing must be less favourable than what existed before, tell me how did 2 percent and 8 percent come in the spotlight?

I’m now wondering who’s fooling who?

Brian JM Joseph

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