The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is defending its contentious proposal for a 23 per cent pay hike for Government employees after the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) described their 15 per cent proposal as more practical.
BWU General Secretary Toni Moore told reporters yesterday their decision was informed by current economic conditions in the country where a recovery seems to be underway following a protracted seven year downturn.
The proposed 15 per cent across-the-board salary increase is over two years and retroactive to April 1 this year.
“The fact that we are asking for 15 per cent is a BWU position, but we always presented negotiated positions in negotiations. The NUPW, I am aware, submitted 23 [per cent]; that is where they would want to begin. Our negotiated position represents what the Barbados Workers Union would recognize as being practical within the context for the last eight years that we were in crisis,” Moore said.
“We thought we should not vary that now only because it is public sector negotiations and only because there has been an obvious trigger,” Moore added following a near two-hour meeting with shop stewards from across the public service.
When asked this afternoon for a comment on the BWU’s position, Acting NUPW General Secretary Delcia Burke expressed reservations. “No, I don’t have any comments really. That is their proposal and we have submitted ours. I don’t have any comment. We also consider ours practical,” Burke told Barbados TODAY.
Earlier this week, NUPW President Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY his union was sticking to its guns because its request was justified. He said the figures were not plucked from the sky, but had come from “the best team possible” of economists.
“When I hear people say the figures are not possible, I don’t know. We did this thing based on evidence and on as much facts as possible,” he said.
The NUPW leader said Government’s decision to return parliamentarians’ salaries to pre-2014 levels, when Members of Parliament took a 10 per cent cut as their contribution to the administration’s deficit reduction efforts, was also a factor in the union’s decision to ask for the 23 per cent increase.
“This now has given us the impetus to go forward because we have said now that we have held strain too long . . . and it is really an insensitive thing for ministers to want to compensate themselves before they give the public servants of Barbados a salary increase. So we are going forward full speed ahead with asking for a salary increase for public servants,” McDowall vowed.
Asked to respond to views expressed by the private sector that the NUPW’s request was impractical and unaffordable at this time, McDowall simply said: “I don’t understand on what basis the private sector would have made the statement.”
The BWU boss also said yesterday she hoped her union’s pay settlement in the upcoming negotiations with Government would be used as a yardstick by which future agreements in the private sector could be measured.