The time when public workers got double digit increases could be over, says a top trade union executive.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY via telephone this afternoon, re-elected President of the National Union of Public Workers, Walter Maloney, said that trade unions will now be moving towards having more benefits.
“I know persons are going to be talking about salary increases because of the rise in prices, but I really believe that although we are not going to put salary increases on the back burner, certainly the days of double digit increases I think those are going to be things of the past.
“I think more and more unions across the world are trying to negotiate more benefits now than salary increases because salary increases are going to be negligible anyhow.
“If you get a five per cent increase, well you did well. I don’t know of any countries right now anywhere in the world that are offering more than five per cent to their workers and those are usually countries that are not as badly off as others.
“But the norm is between three and three and a half per cent and so for me to go and argue for three and a half per cent for some person working for $1,500 that works out to $45. I don’t know if that is going to be as impactful as if I could get a benefit for you.
“I can get you appointed to the service, I can get increased holiday, I can get a change in salary structure, in the personal allowances, those kind of things.
“So these are issues that certainly we will have to be looking at — how do we look at getting more benefits for the workers in this environment,” he said.
Maloney, who’s team included Akanni McDowell and Margo Bannister as first and second vice president, said he will be mentoring them and the younger members of the union in an attempt to get them more involved.
“In order to do that we need to make the union attractive to younger persons … it is going to be imperative that we use them, and use the talents of our Young Workers Division to see how best they can utilise their skills to attract more young people into the organisation.
“You can’t have a [sustainable] organisation where the average age of our membership right now is about 50. We have a lot of members, but one point something per cent is under 30 or 25. So that is something we need to look at.
“If we can get young people who are interested and show the kind of inclination to push the union in a direction that makes sense then you have to utilise them. And they have the skills, they are bright young people and I think we need to use them, as simple as that,” he said.
He added that the NUPW, which is the largest public sector trade union had “maintained our density”, but the problem was the age of the membership. (DS)