As the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) prepares to press for a salary increase for its members and public workers, President Akanni McDowall is urging the country not to brand the union executives as troublemakers.
McDowall delivered brief remarks during a service this morning at the historic and symbolic Cathedral of St Michael and All Angels marking the start of the NUPW’s Annual General Conference.
” . . . we are not agitating for this pay raise because we are troublemakers, or because we do not love our country,” he said.
“We are stakeholders in nation building. If the Government of Barbados signals to us that our country is in difficult times and strain will be held, we the union will hold strain. It is our national duty to so do. However, when the Government signals, by removing the hold of strain that we are again in a position to do more, then the union will return to its primary mandate of ensuring that our workers are not taken for granted.”
The NUPW has threatened industrial action to force Government back to the negotiating table. Last week the union’s General Council decided to engage in industrial action at a yet to be announced date, to pressure the administration to resume talks on its demand for 23 per cent pay rise for public servants.
The union insists that its research has found that Government can afford a wage hike, and it has dug in its heels even further following the decision by legislators of the ruling Democratic Labour Party to restore the ten per cent that was cut from their salaries and those of senior public servants in 2014 during the height of austerity.
Outlining some of their recent achievements, McDowall said the NUPW now has better connectivity with the public through a new website launched this month.
“In response to the economic hardships faced by our members, we have been able to offer a discount card on goods and services. We are strengthening our internal management and administration – for the first time since 2013, we have audited financial statements,” he said.
“In the face of the national concern about non-communicable diseases, we have also been able to make the health and wellness of our workers a priority, by partnering with the University of the West Indies to implement a wellness programme for members. There are several other initiatives which you will hear about during the course of our week of activities,” McDowall added.