It’s back to the negotiating table for Government and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) on April 4 for a resumption of pay talks, with the union appearing quite willing to compromise on its demand for a 23 per cent hike for public servants.
“I think everybody in Barbados by now knows what the union’s position is on a salary increase. We are asking for 23 per cent, but I want people to remember that 23 per cent is really the maximum; that is the desired amount. But we negotiate and then we come to some kind of agreement with Government on the amount of money that should be given to public servants,” an upbeat NUPW President Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY this morning.
However, he said the onus was now on Government to show that it could not meet the maximum demand since “the union did not simply pull the 23 per cent out of a hat.
“We had a team of competent economists who sat down and came up with the percentage that we should ask for,” he told Barbados TODAY, while insisting that there should be an increase of one kind or another for public servants who have been faced with difficulties amid tough economic times that have affected their general purchasing power.
At the same time, McDowall rejected out of hand the recent suggestion by outspoken Government minister Donville Inniss that the union’s pay demand was downright unreasonable.
While referring to Inniss as a “wild card”, the NUPW president also took issue with comments made in the Senate yesterday by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Senator Darcy Boyce that even “a nice, comfortable” ten per cent pay rise would deal a devastating blow to the economy.
With the wage negotiations currently at a delicate stage, McDowall said it was not only “highly inappropriate”, but “bordering on disrespectful” for Government ministers to be pontificating on the matter without being armed with the necessary facts.
He emphasized that the NUPW’s position was based on facts, therefore it was up to Government to show it could not meet the wage demand.
The union has been threatening to stage industrial action unless the Freundel Stuart administration resumes their pay negotiations which had been stalled since last October.
However, after receiving confirmation from his General Secretary Roslyn Smith today that Government had agreed to meet with the union on April 4, McDowall said the NUPW was prepared to hold off on its planned strike action, since it was never its intention to disrupt the country.
“I think what we have to do is to work towards developing a harmonious industrial relations cliemate between the Government and the union and to have this meeting, I think is a step in that direction,” the union president told Barbados TODAY, adding he was hopeful of an agreement.