Kenny JamesThe Grenada Trade Union Council extends New Year greeting to our affiliates and all workers in Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Comrades, 2015 has come and gone leaving us with a number of unresolved challenges that our unions must continue to address in this New Year. The issues of the unpaid increments to public officers and teachers as well as the plight of our nurses at the General Hospital are amongst some of the major challenges.

We continue to offer solidarity to the workers at the Grenada Postal Corporation, LIME, FLOW, and Gravel Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation, where workers are facing possible dismissal. The GTUC will continue its undaunting support for the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers’ Union and the Public Workers’ Union as they continue to negotiate on the behalf of these affected members.

Furthermore, we call on the Demerara Life Insurance Company to make good on the benefits that retired workers are entitled to based on the collective bargaining agreement signed with the CIWU. Additionally, we call on Government to put proper mechanisms in place to monitor the performance of the privatised estates as the GTUC is concerned about the operations of the estates and the workers in their employ.

Brothers and Sisters, as workers we were asked to make sacrifices as part of the Government’s Structural Adjustment Programme; therefore, unions in good faith agreed to a deferral of negotiations while government wanted a wage freeze. Meanwhile, this same government through the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure 2016 has proposed a monthly increase of $1000.00 for the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary.

While a legitimate increase for any worker is welcomed by the labour movement, to do so at this time when others are sacrificing and under significant pressure is a very insensitive, ill-informed and unreasonable move by the Government.

Consequently, the GTUC calls on the Government to reconsider and revoke this decision as it sends a mixed message at this time of structural adjustment and sacrifice. Failure to reconsider this decision will leave the public sector unions no choice but to seek increases for their members who are well deserving of same as many of the successes that the Government boasts about is because of our selfless service and sacrifice.

Moreover, the issue of unemployment continues to plague our country at a rate of 30%. While there has been some improvements triggered by the construction industry, more must be done to get our unemployed youth engaged in sustainable forms of employment. As a result, we call again for Government to place greater emphasis on the productive sectors of the economy as this can form the basis for sustainable employment for our people.

More favourably, the GTUC wishes to salute and commend the workers’ representatives Sister Madonna Harford and Brother Bert Paterson on the Board of the National Insurance Scheme for their valiant efforts to ensure that no hair cut was given to the Government; but rather, a debt restructuring arrangement. This debt restructuring arrangement will ensure that the monies owed to the Scheme by the Government are paid with minimal losses based on the professional advice given to the scheme.

Brothers and sisters, the Government of Grenada has signed agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other agencies and these agreements are made public for all to peruse. Hence, the National Insurance Scheme should do likewise in the interest of transparency and accountability to the Grenadian people.

Albeit, comrades as we forge ahead in 2016 let us be vigilant, manage the little that we have and hold our leaders accountable during this structural adjustment program. This is a period that calls for all workers both in the private and public sectors to unite and ensure that the benefits that our founding fathers fought for are not retracted under the pretext of structural adjustment.

May God’s blessing be upon us in this New Year as we continue to champion the cause of workers in Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Solidarity forever, long live the labour unions and the hard working people of the State of Grenada

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