The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has dismissed as without merit, a warning that the union should not press Government for a pay rise at this time because the administration simply could not afford it.
Head of the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus Dr Winston Moore this week argued that a push for wage increases could trigger more layoffs in the Government service and/or an increase in taxes.
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY, NUPW President Akanni McDowall said Moore had no basis for his position, insisting there would be no pull back on the union’s demands.
“We are not surprised but we are disappointed. Our proposal has not been made available for public consumption. So we are unclear on what basis Dr Moore’s comments are being made,” McDowall said.
The union boss, who has been holding the details of the proposed hike close to this chest, said the union would not release the details until the proposal, which was submitted only last week, had been fully analyzed by Government.
“It is not the practice of the union to make information public without giving the Ministry [of Finance] an opportunity to peruse it. We are just giving the Ministry a chance to look at it. We are going to negotiate with them and they are not saying that they are not accepting it yet. We are giving them a chance to respond to it and then as always we make the information public.”
He called for the two sides to be allowed time for meaningful negotiations, but was adamant that the public servants had a solid case and the proposal was based on sound research and expert advice.
“We may be rushing the brush and the negotiations have not even begun.
“We have been able to put together the best minds in Barbados to look at this thing. That is my position as President. I said I will not throw out the baby with the bathwater. The team has been able to show that we can get an increase while still allowing Barbados to grow,” he insisted.
The NUPW has already received strong backing from the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).
President Cedric Murrell pointed out this week that public servants had gone without an increase since 2009, and while the country had been through tough economic times, the time had come for workers to be justly rewarded.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has already indicated that the decision would depend on cash flow, even as he acknowledged that Government remained bedevilled by a number of financial issues such as shortage of cash, an overall fiscal deficit and its rising debt level.