Workers at the state-owned Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) are now engaged in industrial action through the wearing of red arm bands on the job.
The Public Workers Union (PWU) has ordered the workers into action over issues relating to salary increases for its members.
The union believes it has been disrespected by GIDC with an offer of 0% and 2.2% which goes way under what was proposed by PWU.
The union was originally seeking 7% for 2015, 7% for 2016, 7% for 2017 and 2018 but is now asking for a flat 6% for these years.
PWU President Rachael Roberts told reporters at a press conference last Friday that the negotiations between the Union and the GIDC have been ongoing for over a year and although, the Ministry of Labour has agreed to the proposal from the Union, the corporation is refusing to move from its offer.
“We are at a stage with our salary increases where we are at deadlock because we consider the GIDC not to be giving us what the members deserve. Members who have sacrificed…”, she said.
According to Roberts those employees who have been working at GIDC for 15 plus years and in some cases over 30 years deserve much better consideration in salary increases.
“…We consider that to be really disrespectful to our membership… after you have made all this sacrifice. We are talking about committed and dedicated personnel, employees who have been in the service for such a long time, performing at their optimum”, she said.
Referring to productivity levels at GIDC as “excellent”, Roberts questioned why the state body is not willing to “provide salary increases over what government has given to their members and other statutory bodies have given to our members”.
She said it is almost as if the workers are paying for GIDC’s wastage throughout the years.
“Our members have informed us of many instances where the GIDC seem to be wasting…there is great wastage in how GIDC manages its funds and we want to say to them that our members must not be punished for the wastage that they are involved in.
“Our members must not have to suffer because they are not managing their finances in an economically viable manner. Our members must not be punished because GIDC chooses to employ persons who have to be paid exorbitant salaries.
“Our members must be treated fairly. Our members must be treated with dignity and respect and we call on the GIDC to respect the membership of the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation, respect persons who are long serving, persons who are dedicated to their work, persons who are honest in their performance, persons who are willing to go the extra mile to give valuable service to this organisation.
“Why is the membership being treated so unfairly? Our members cannot be accountable for the investments and projects that are not economically viable that the GIDC is engaged in.
First Vice President of the PWU, Andrew Augustine warned that the ongoing negotiations between GIDC and PWU does not speak well for employer/employee relationship in the country.
“We expected the GIDC as a respectable organisation to treat its workers fairly but what we’ve seen is the GIDC has decided to erode all the gains the workers have fought for over the years in terms of benefits”, he said.
“We think that’s a backward move in terms of human relations and how organisations should be treating their employees but to top all this off…GIDC proposing zero increases in 2015, zero increases in 2016 for workers while we have inflationary increases and all of the stuff which affects workers real wages…”, he added.
Augustine went on: “…In fact, we think that this action by the GIDC or the lack of movement by the GIDC is an insult to the workers who have been contributing so much towards the success of the organisation.
It is not the management but it’s the workers who have made the name for this organisation”.
The PWU Shop Steward at GIDC, Kathy-Ann Alexander Pierre also spoke on the issue of the stalemate in the salary negotiations.
“What is happening here is not only that we are not properly compensated with respect to our salary increases that we are asking for but we are here because we are now being asked to give up on our benefits…benefits we would have fought years for, benefits we would have given up things for already.
“We speak of severance, we speak of our vacation allowances and we speak of a lot of other things within our agreement – fringe benefits which we would have maintained in the organisation for many years and now GIDC is asking us to give up those benefits, they are asking to reduce on those benefits.
“…We are not only standing firm for salary increases like any other organisation but what we are asking – is that the benefits that we have, we ask that it be maintained so that we can work in an environment where we have a level of security that we work hard for over the years”.