The island’s largest public sector trade union is demanding a massive 23 per cent pay rise for public servants for the period 2010 to 2015.
Following a meeting with an estimated 250 public officers yesterday, Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Delcia Burke told the media that the union had asked the Freundel Stuart administration for a double-digit increase for the three year period ending in 2013 and a single digit rise for the remaining period up to the end of last year.
“We are asking for an increase of 18 per cent from 2010 to 2013 and a further five per cent from 2013 to 2015. The NUPW also submitted non salaried proposals, 22 to be exact, on behalf of the members of the union,” Burke revealed.
Burke explained that the demands for non-salaried workers included appointments, washing allowance for security guards, duty-free electric vehicles for travelling officers and a ten per cent rise in travel allowances if petrol prices rise above $3.50 cents per litre.
It was not immediately clear how much such increases would cost the Treasury, but the union representative argued that the demands were justified.
She said her team took into consideration rises in the cost of living and inflation, making specific reference to taxed allowances, increases in land, road and excise taxes, higher utility bills and the introduction of the Consolidation Tax.
However, she said what further strengthened the workers resolve was Government’s plan to restore to parliamentarians and senior officers, the ten per cent cut from their salaries in 2014.
“Most members felt very incensed about that. They have been holding strain from since 2010; that would have been the last increase that they would have received and they believe that the Government is very insensitive to determine at this stage they are going to restore the ten per cent cut. So workers are adamant that they must receive a salary increase because if the Government can restore the ten per cent, it meant that things must be looking up,” Burke said.
In addition to the pay rise, the union has asked Government to make pensions a right “because as it stands now for some reason the Government can stop pensions if a public servant has been found guilty of a serious offense even if that person has started to receive the pension”.
The NUPW is also demanding that public workers become eligible for pensions after five years of service, instead of ten years as is currently the case.
Burke revealed that the proposals were submitted to the Ministry of Civil Service in January and that the ministry had responded on March 18 requesting further clarification which the union provided on March 31.
She said a letter would be dispatched to Government tomorrow seeking a date for the start of negotiations.
“[We are] requesting that we begin negotiations next week in which we will come back to our members and determine what form of action we will have to take,” she said.
Meantime, Burke said that separate proposals would be submitted to Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) regarding pay increases for its employees and that negotiations with the airport authorities were likely to begin soon.
She did not say how much the NUPW would demand for the airport workers, but Barbados TODAY understands it would also ask for a double-digit rise.