GUT taking Mitchell government to Court on pension dispute

Following a meeting with its membership last week, the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) has decided to take the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government to court on the issue of gratuity and pension.

This was communicated Tuesday to THE NEW TODAY newspaper by President of the union, Lydon Lewis.

“The fundamental decision is that we are no longer interested in discussions around the table. We have indicated to (the) government’s Pension Engagement Committee (PEC), that we are withdrawing and our members have indicated to us that we should file the matter legally and so, we are letting the court decide what our rights are based on what we understand to be our constitutional rights”, he said.

In a release issued Monday, the Mitchell government declared the impasse to be deadlocked and was sending it to the Labour Commissioner.

The Public Workers Union (PWU), the Technical and Allied Workers Unions (TAWU) and two staff associations representing police and prison officers were engaged in the pension and gratuity negotiations with government.

The government’s latest offer was eight 8% while the public sector bodies refused to move from their demands for 25% payment on the grounds that it was guaranteed in the Constitution.

The GUT President said he does not understand what the government is doing by declaring the negotiations to be deadlocked.

“I really don’t know what the government is doing. It is really the strangest incidents I’ve seen. We didn’t declare a deadlock. We did not agree that we are in a state of deadlock”, he said.

“We are the aggrieved party and the government seems to want to act as the aggrieved party and (are) determined that they can force us into conciliation and mediation and we are not interested in that and we made that clear. That is our position,” he added.

He went on: “So, Minister (Oliver) Joseph and the Pension Engagement team or GIS (Government Information Service) can do whatever they want (but) to us, it’s over and done with”.

Lewis pointed out that there are several persons who have already retired and have not received the gratuity owed to them.

“We have several persons who are waiting now, who have been disenfranchised and (have) not (been) receiving anything from government. So that one is an easy one for us and we have persons who have already stepped forward and said they are willing to challenge the matter on their own behalf, the teachers’ and the union’s behalf.
So, that is not a problem for us,” he told THE NEW TODAY.

However, the GUT boss was not is a position to say exactly how soon court action would proceed against the government.

“… What we can do is instruct our lawyers and our lawyers will take it from there”, he affirmed.

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