Newly elected President of the Grenada Trade Unions Council (TUC), Andre Lewis has said that he is committed to the fight against sections of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which seeks to curtail free collective bargaining for public servants.
Lewis, who was elected by delegates representing the respective affiliates of the TUC during its annual convention and elections last week Saturday said, the unions, will be working steadfastly in relation to critical issues such as wage increases and pension.
He said although the public sector unions have successfully negotiated wage increases with government for the period 2017-2019, they would not concede until amendments have been made to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
“We have no difficulty with the general principle of the FRA…it’s those sections that seeks to muzzle or ban free collective agreement is what we are concerned about,” he added.
Lewis easily defeated the incumbent Kenny James for the presidency. James will now serve as 1st Vice President of the TUC.
Prior to Saturday’s meeting, James had made statements of a possible countrywide strike if the issue of pension is not resolved with government.
Lewis, who is the current President General of the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), said the TUC is looking forward to positive news from the Minister of Labour at the upcoming May Day celebrations.
“We look forward with high anticipation to whatever pronouncements that the Minister for Labour would make on May Day,” he said, adding that Minister Oliver Joseph had indicated that he will have positive news for workers on Labour Day.
According to Lewis, two resolutions were approved during Saturday’s meeting dealing with the “fight against the section of the Fiscal Responsibility legislation that aims to curtail free collective bargaining, where government is putting a curb on salary negotiations and a resolution on pension calling for the reinstatement of pension,” which he believes would set the tone for the next two years.
The FRL has been forced on the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration by the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the 3-year Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to address a severe fiscal problem faced by Grenada.
The IMF has been seeking to curb government’s expenditure through the FRL which was also forced on Jamaica as part of its own structural adjustment package with the fund.
Saturday’s TUC elections also saw Public Workers Union (PWU) President Rachael Roberts being reelected to serve as 2nd Vice President of the umbrella body.
TAWU’s Bert Patterson was also reelected as General Secretary, while Davis Adams has been elected to serve as his new assistant.
Former PWU President, Adrian Francis is the new Treasurer and Finbar Linton and Richard Chase are the trustees.