The membership of the Public Workers Union (PWU) last week Friday agreed to sign on to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the issue of pension restoration and reform to ensure that they are not left out of the process.
This decision was taken by a majority vote, during a special meeting convened by Union President Rachael Roberts, at the Public Workers Union (PWU) building to ensure that members understand exactly what is taking place on their behalf.
“Whatever the membership says, that is my mandate and I will abide by the mandate of the membership… we have written to the Government today (Tuesday) asking to sign (the Memorandum of Understanding on pension restoration and reform) on or before (Friday) March 5,” Roberts told THE NEW TODAY.
The MOU was signed on February 19 with government by the representatives of five other unions and staff organisations – Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), Royal Grenada Police Force Gazetted Officers & Welfare Association, Her Majesty Prison Welfare Association, and the Grenada Technical Allied Workers Union (TAWU).
The agreement outlined a number of key principles on the way forward towards the realisation of pension restoration and reformation including a commitment to see the framework “approved by June 2018”.
However, the MOU indicated that the “start date of new schemes shall be based on availability of funds and will be subject to discussions with the unions and associations.”
THE NEW TODAY understands that after the March 13 general elections any government, whether it be the incumbent or newly installed one will be obligated to adhere to the principles set out in the MOU which states that pension will be afforded to persons who entered the public service on a definitive or permanent basis as of April 4, 1983.
However, the PWU President is taking issue with principle number 4 under Phase 1 of the MOU, which sets out the minimum pension rate for eligible officers at 70%, after the completion of 26.666 years.
Roberts pointed out that “the Unions (had) agreed that it (70%) would be a minimum, a base figure to start off negotiations”.
She explained that “normally, pension schemes around the world start with 75% as the minimum,” and that “one of the things that we have to endeavour to do is to move the base.
“These are just the principles so that when we move forward and we negotiate, we negotiate for better for our membership,” she added.
THE NEW TODAY has been reliably informed that some decisions of the PWU President do not reflect the views of its entire membership.
Although last week Friday’s meeting started on a good footing, it ended with many members walking out before its conclusion after voting to sign the MOU.
Some members described the move by the PWU President to not sign the MOU, as a “political gimmick,” while others expressed the view that the “70% (minimum) is still better than nothing” and others felt that Roberts could have “signed the agreement and negotiate for a better pension rate afterwards.”
The PWU president acknowledged that while the body does “have internal problems…we will fix our problems.”
She did not wish to elaborate further on the internal squabble among public officers on the issue.