Public Workers in Grenada have rejected a Wage Freeze proposal put forward to them by the one-year old New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
A source told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the vote went 108 to 27 not to accept the wage freeze which government says is crucial for the signing of a “Letter of Intent” with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The meeting was called by two of the unions representing public sector employees – the Public Workers Union (PWU), headed by Adrian Francis and the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) under the control of President-General, Chester Humphrey.
The other bargaining agent for government employees is the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) of Lydon Lewis.
The GUT has embarked upon a series of area meetings with teachers in order to get a consensus from its members on whether to accept the wage freeze proposal from the Mitchell administration.
Lewis told THE NEW TODAY on Monday that the exercise should be completed by the end of the week and sometime early next week the position of the teachers will be made public on the issue.
Government workers belonging to PWU and TAWU assembled at Tanteen last week Thursday and deliberated for hours on the wage freeze offer.
One of the highpoints of the meeting was a PowerPoint presentation by Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mike Sylvester, outlining some key aspects of the homegrown programme.
According to a well-placed source, the workers did not buy into the presentation as Sylvester could not provide them with a copy of the “Letter of Intent” which government wanted the unions to give their support.
The public sector unions had already started negotiations with the Mitchell government on salary increases when Prime Minister Mitchell made the declaration that government would not be able to agree to increases in light of its Structural Adjustment Programme.
The Prime Minister also told the nation that government will proceed to sign the letter of intent with the IMF with or without approval from the unions since the millions of dollars on offer was important to the future prospects of the country’s development.
THE NEW TODAY has since been able to obtain the copy of a document outlining a series of proposals drawn up by the leaders of PWU and TAWU on the proposed wage freeze.
Following are the details:
(1). During the period of the Structural Adjustment there shall be no Retrenchment in the Public Sector.
(2). During the period of the Structural Adjustment, Government shall collect Personal Income Tax at the legal amounts from the Professional Sector and shall also commit to ensure tax compliance of other self-employed persons, service providers and the Business Sector. The Union through the GTUC shall be afforded the opportunity to monitor the tax compliance performance of the Inland Revenue Department.
(3). Where a deferral of wages and salaries is negotiated, it will not include a freeze on Increments which are legally binding or any adjustments to address inequality of wages and salaries.
(4). In the event during the three (3) year period of Structural Adjustments the Government affords increases to any of its employees be it permanent, contracted, trainees or any other form of employment, the PWU/TAWU reserves the right to immediately submit wages and salaries proposals and commence negotiations for the three (3) year period of Adjustment.
(5). During the last three (3) months of the Structural Adjustment Program, the Government and Unions will exchange wages and salaries proposals that will be negotiated within six (6) months of receipt.
(6). On commencement of the Structural Adjustment Program, the Government will rationalize the employment of Public Officers to ensure that there are no duplication of officers or other anomalies that bloat the Public Service and shall take no actions that will account for unnecessary additions to the wage bill.
(7). The technical team involved in negotiating any agreement with the IMF shall have included an appointee recommended by GTUC who shall have the technical competence that is required for such negotiations.
(8). During the period of Adjustment, a mechanism shall be formulated to ensure that disputes referred to the Ministry of Labour shall be addressed with urgency and decisiveness.
(9). If during the three (3) year period of the Structural Adjustment Program the above mentioned conditions are not maintained by the Government, the Unions will reconsider any deferral of wages and salaries negotiations that may be agreed on and immediately submit wage proposals for the said period of Structural Adjustment.