Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler sent the clearest signal yet to public servants that Government would not agree to their demand for a 23 per cent pay rise.
Speaking on the state-run Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation this evening, Sinckler placed the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) on notice that such an increase would be “unsustainable”.
The NUPW, which represents the majority of public workers, said on Wednesday it would ask the Freundel Stuart administration for an 18 per cent increase for 2010 to 2013 and a further five per cent for 2013 to 2015.
“I am not sure that the economy could afford to sustain such a substantial increase in salaries because I don’t know what figures the unions, particularly the NUPW, have been looking at . . . but the figures that I have seen do not suggest that such would be sustainable.
“If, of course, we are saying that Government is relying too much on Central Bank printing of money or financing of the deficit . . . if we are saying that has to be brought to an end, I can’t imagine you would want to add fuel to that fire by putting unsustainable wage increases in place,” Sinckler said.
The minister revealed that the union’s demand would cost the Treasury approximately $150 million, reversing “those gains” which the economy was beginning to register.
He also warned that Government would likely be forced to implement some uncomfortable measures in order to pay for the increase.
“And then you have to come back and take even further measures to do fiscal consolidation that may very well wipe out those gains or even cause further discomfiture to the public service.”
Sinckler said he was not opposed to a pay rise for Government workers, but with the deficit still in need of substantial reduction, “I would love to see the circumstances under which such could
“But of course there are negotiations to be gone through and we will wait and see how those negotiations end,” he pointed out.
However, he would not be drawn into suggesting a figure which Government could afford.
One of the reasons given by the NUPW for the steep ask was Government’s proposal to restore to parliamentarians, the ten per cent cut from their salaries since 2014.
The union argued that the decision proved that the administration was able to afford a 23 per cent salary increase for workers.
However, the business community has poured cold water on the union’s proposal, describing it as impractical and unaffordable.
Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Alex McDonald told Barbados TODAY this afternoon the NUPW, which has not secured a salary hike for public servants since 2010, appeared to be showing signs of frustration.
“The request, along with the timing of the request, captures maybe the feeling of frustration that they may feel, given recent developments. But I don’t think it is a practical request at this time,” McDonald said.
The BPSA head said it would take intense negotiation for the two sides to get to a level that was appropriate and mutually acceptable.
“And I personally don’t know what Government can afford, if anything, at all,” he concluded.