PWU expresses concerns with gov’t

All is not well between the trade unions in Grenada and the near two year old New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Two weeks ago, the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) announced that it was planning to take the cash-strapped government to court over the issue of increments due to its membership.

And now the largest bargaining body for public sector employees in the country – the Public Workers Union (PWU) – has voiced concerns about a number of issues with the Mitchell administration.

In an address to mark the start of PWU Week of Activities, President Adrian Francis has pointed at a number of things that are not going down well with his membership.

These include the removal of the Free Schoolbook programme under the former Congress government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, rising cost of living and increased taxes on workers on their salaries and on their properties.

Following is the full text of Francis’ address:

This year, we are celebrating Public Workers’ Union Week under the Theme Preserving and enhancing the rights and freedom of labour today, in a period of Structural Adjustment.

Brothers and sisters, in our present era, it appears that some persons, who are not concerned about, or are not cognisant of the interest of workers, are determined to reverse the many achievements and benefits fought for by our forefathers. It seems that these persons would stop at nothing to deprive workers of these benefits and return us to the era of slavery and the years of the struggle of our forefathers.

Today, we are in a phase in our history, where the powers that be, see no harm in disregarding the Staff Orders, to deprive us of our payment of increments, which is stipulated to be paid within a certain time frame. Already, this has been violated, and we are calling on those concerned to honour our payment of increments.

In addition, we are extremely baffled, as it appears that, persons would stop at nothing, to oppress workers. Imagine, that the forty- hour work week is being questioned. And to crown it, the new Attrition Policy is now being implemented; asking workers to do double the work, under the guise that government must do more with less. Would the salaries of workers be so adjusted?

Further, as we look around, out sourcing and contracted work have become the order of the day. But we ask these questions – Is it legal? is the law not being broken, in a law abiding country, is it not exploitation of labour?

The cost of living continues to rise, and we heard it being stated all over the news, that unions have agreed to a wage freeze. We make it clear that the PWU have signed no such agreement.

With our 2012 salaries, we have to pay higher prices for goods and services. Moreover, officers are also burdened with the payment of Income Tax, as well as increases in the payment of Property Tax, and Vehicle Licence Tax. We have heard it stated over and over again, that the School Books Programme would be removed. A Programme that assisted parents from all walks of life.

Brothers and sisters, notwithstanding the foregoing, we encourage you to continue to perform your duties diligently and produce at the highest level.

We must fight this battle in the correct manner. The PWU will not give up the fight. Your union would continue to forge on in the struggle for better working conditions for all and ensure the benefits of our fore fathers are not taken away and safeguard the rights and freedom of our members.

I wish you all a happy and productive Week!!

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