The odds of this island’s public servants receiving a double digit pay increase from Government now appear to be slim to none, with President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Association of Barbados (CTUSAB) Cedric Murrell indicating yesterday that the umbrella body had essentially thrown in the towel on its demands for a 12 per cent pay hike for public servants over a three year period.
However, neither the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) nor the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) seems prepared to accept that position, with the general secretaries of both unions making it clear to Barbados TODAY this afternoon that CTUSAB did not speak for them on the issue.
“CTUSAB negotiates for CTUSAB and the BWU’s position has not changed. We are still in negotiations. Our position is the same as it was at the last meeting and they [BWU and Government negotiators] haven’t met since April,” the BWU’s Toni Moore said.
She also made it clear that “he [Murrell] could only be speaking for the unions that are still in CTUSAB, which are not many anyhow”.
The NUPW’s Rosalyn Smith was equally dismissive of CTUSAB and its leader.
In reference to the umbrella organization, she said: “That is no umbrella thing”, while pointing out that “the NUPW always negotiates as a separate union.
“He [Murrell] cannot speak for us. That is CTUSAB and that is his statement.
“NUPW is negotiating with the Government and we expect a meeting in the next two weeks to continue the negotiations,” she added.
In his address to CTUSAB’s midterm delegates’ conference yesterday, Murrell all but said that the proposed wage increase was now off the table, even though he was adamant that some other concessions would have to be made by Government.
“We have had four meetings with the Ministry of the Civil Service thus far and those meetings have been conducted in a spirit of understanding and a spirit of reality and in seeking the best way forward,” Murrell told the gathering at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
“At this stage the Congress is seeking to have an agreement that focuses on certain key conditions of service and at the same time a recognition of the contribution of public servants over the last seven or eight years reflected by some type of payment or payout.
“This payment or payout would ensure that the workers themselves are able to feel that they have received some just reward, at the same time that the economy of the country can take whatever that is,” he added.
However, while the BWU is sticking to its demand for a 15 per cent pay rise, the NUPW is pushing for a 23 per cent increase, as well as some form of coping subsidy for its members in the face of the recent increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) from two per cent to ten per cent, which it said had added to its members’ suffering.
However, in another unexpected twist, the Barbados Union of Teachers, which, along with the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, the BWU and the NUPW has been pressing Government over the past two to three months for a coping subsidy following the NSRL hike on July 1, said today it was willing to support in principle CTUSAB’s new position on salaries.
“I would have gone to the salaries meetings. We would have discussed what the one-off payment would be and if we can get what we are suggesting then yes, the BUT would agree to the one-off payment,” BUT President Pedro Shepherd told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, while explaining that with the one-off payment Government would not have a recurring cost.
“BUT agreed to it in principle, but it would not be the full membership,” Shepherd said.