After two years of intensive negotiations, the Bank and General Workers Union (BGWU) and Republic Bank Grenada have finally signed onto a collective agreement that provides salary increases and other incentive benefits for employees.
The agreement, which was signed last Wednesday in the presence of Labour Commissioner Cyrus Griffith at the Ministry of Labour Conference Room, saw agreement being reached on wages and salary, personal development, an incentive plan, severance benefits, and a transfer and displacement allowance.
The union’s Field Officer, Joseph Mitchell told reporters that the parties were deadlocked on five articles in the collective agreement at the close of the bilateral stage of negotiations, which led to the union turning to the Labour Commissioner and the Minister of Labour to seek redress.
Mitchell said that when the negotiations started the issues at the forefront were the articles dealing with a Personal Development Incentive Plan, Severance Benefit, Transfer and Displacement Allowance, Wages and Salary and Profit sharing.
According to Mitchell, agreement was reached on four of the articles except Profit sharing but the workers will now be getting a 7.5% increase in Salaries and Wages for the next three years.
The union official said that Republic Bank staffers were benefitting from a severance agreement on months paid per year of service and a better deal was hammered out for the workers.
“The union sought an increase in severance benefit after several discussions on the issue. We have had settlements of increase severance to workers between 18 to 25 years (they) will now get an additional week and workers over 25 years would get two additional weeks…”, he said.
“…I believe it’s a welcome adjustment and I believe it’s something that the employees would be satisfied with. It is something that the union can work with and we are happy that we could have had some form of agreement on this article”, he added.
With respect to the article governing Transfer and Displacement, Mitchell noted that workers who were transferred between Grenada and Carriacou were benefitting rental displacement allowance of $1350 and $1650 respectively.
He said: The union argued that we believe that such arrangement (was) discriminatory and we sought an equal sum. Again, after a lot of discussion on the matter, we are happy that we were able to agree that all workers would benefit $1700”.
Mitchell told reporters that the union decided to withdraw its proposal on Profit Sharing.
“The workers at republic bank, we want to express thank you to the process. Again, we commend the management of the bank that we are able to work together in such a purposeful manner, although at times, it has been difficult but we are happy that we are able to get to this point”, he said.
Manager of Republic Bank, Keith Johnson thanked the parties for finally coming to a conclusion on the agreement.
“The bank is pleased that we have reached this stage in negotiations for the period January 2017 to December 2019 and that the agreement has been signed this morning. We would like to thank all parties engaged in this process; the union representatives, my team from Republic Bank and of course the Labour Commissioner,” he said.