Grenada’s cash-strapped government of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell has notified three public sector unions on the island that it was experiencing problems in raising the millions of dollars needed to honour a commitment made to public sector employees.
A government release said that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine met with the Presidents of the Public Workers Union, Adrian Francis, Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), Lydon Lewis and the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), Chester Humphrey to update them on the status of the third installment of retroactive payment which was scheduled to be paid on February 28, 2014.
According to the release, the Ministry of Finance “informed the unions that based on current efforts, it hopes to be in a position to make the payment by mid-April 2014”.
It added that although this promise was “not a certainty”,the PS in Finance the union leaders “the assurance that the payment of the third installment will be made by June 2014”.
The release went on to say: “The Ministry of Finance also informed the Unions’ leadership that in light of the delay in the payment of the third installment, the fourth and final installment scheduled for May 2014 may need to be rescheduled. The new payment date will be confirmed in due course and in a timely manner.
“Both sides agreed to meet monthly to discuss this and other issues of mutual interest. The Government of Grenada reaffirms its commitment to meet its obligations to public officers, teachers, police officers and prison officers. Furthermore, Government thanks all its employees for their patience and understanding in this very challenging period”.
The PWU also sent out a note to its membership to brief them on the turn of events with respect to the non-payment of the back-pay.
“…The PWU wishes to inform members that Government has indicated that the moneys to meet this obligation is coming from external sources and was disappointed that these monies were not received at the estimated time. Government has also apologised that it was unable to meet this obligation and to date, has stated that it is still trying to source funding.
“The Union was further informed that Government would do all in its power to meet this obligation by June 2014 for the period 2011 payments, which was due on February 28th, 2014. In light of this also, the May, 2014 obligation for retro-active payments for 2012 would be postponed to a later date to be paid by October, 2014.
“The Government has indicated its commitment to meet its obligations to workers and promised to constantly communicate with the Executive of the Union on this issue. The Union would provide its members with further updates immediately as the information is available”.
In its own release, TAWU said that PS Antoine did not give a specific date and time frame for the payment of the outstanding monies owed to public officers.
The union said, “…GTAWU was informed that as a result of the February delayed payment the final payment of approximately 14 million dollars which was originally scheduled to be made in May will also have to be pushed back and that it was not possible to determine a date at this time when that final payment will be made.
“The Permanent Secretary apologised to the Unions and the workers on behalf of the Government of Grenada and reiterated its commitment to pay all of the retroactive pay in each of the two trenches as soon as the funds become available.
“He explained that it was never Government’s intention to meet these payments from recurrent revenue given the recurrent shortfall in revenue of 15 million dollars monthly and that Government had to look for external funding to meet this commitment. He stated that government was severely regretful of this development and understands the disappointment of the workers.
“Meanwhile those workers who may have been omitted from the last payment of retroactive pay matter will shortly be addressed in a meeting between the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers’ Union and leader of the Government Negotiating Team, Ms. Beryl Isaac.