President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall is not buying the Minister of Finance’s suggestion that if recently announced taxes were to be rolled back, public sector employees could be made to go home.
Not only has he dismissed Chris Sinckler’s argument, but McDowall has also suggested that it was Government’s mismanagement of funds that had put the country in its current position and that workers should not suffer as a result.
McDowall took that position today, a day after Sinckler warned the NUPW that Government may have to sever public servants if taxes were not implemented, because the public sector wage bill
is too high.
The Minister of Finance was responding to McDowall’s threat that his union would take industrial action if the tax measures were not rolled back or a “coping subsidy” instituted for public servants until salary negotiations are concluded.
However, referring to the Central Bank’s report for the first quarter of this year, McDowall pointed out that Government was currently spending more than $100 million less on the public service than it did in 2013.
“So the whole argument about salaries and wages being the cause of why Government is in this position is flawed, because the Central Bank’s report for the first quarter of 2017 distinctly tells you that salaries and wages cannot be the problem,” he argued.
McDowall contended that the real problem was the unwillingness of Government to sit and negotiate with the union.
He suggested that all the NUPW was asking the Freundel Stuart administration to do was conclude salary negotiations before it implemented any additional taxes, because workers were already overtaxed.
Contending that the current economic problems stemmed from Government’s mismanaging its money, the union official cited the case in which the administration paid private haulers as much as $411 an hour to collect garbage even though the Sanitation Service Authority had staff in place to do the same job.
McDowall said a similar situation existed at the Transport Board which is paying private contractors to repair buses although it has staff there to do the work.
The union leader contended that if Government wanted to pursue a policy of retrenchment of public servants, it would have to adhere to the principle of first in, last out, and produce a list of all the workers who were hired within the last year.
Dismissing suggestions that all he wanted was to be critical of the current administration, McDowall said: “I am not here to be a critic of the Government. I want the Government to sit with the union and determine how both of us can achieve our objectives.”