A former trade union leader, who remains a card-carrying member of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), thinks it is unreasonable for any union to be asking for a double-digit pay increase for public servants at this time.
Director of the Urban Development Commission Derek Alleyne, who is the former deputy general secretary of the NUPW, issued this warning to trade unions last night while speaking at the monthly meeting of the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) St Michael Central constituency branch at Bush Hall, St Michael.
“It is unreasonable to ask for 23 or 26 per cent increases when those kinds of numbers do not exist in negotiations in the Caribbean,” Alleyne said, adding that based on his memory, the highest wage increase that public servants would have enjoyed was a 15 to 16 per cent hike back in 1970s.
“That is the highest that I have known,” the DLP stalwart said, while accusing the current trade union leaders of showing a clear political bias against the current administration.
Last Thursday, the President of the Congress of Trade Union and Staff Associations (CTUSAB), Cedric Murrell, informed delegates at CTUSAB’s midterm delegates’ conference that his umbrella organization was no longer pursuing a 12 per cent increase over a three year period for Government workers.
Instead, he said, based on the current realities, the umbrella organization was willing to accept a smaller payment or payout from Government — a position which has been supported in principle by the Barbados Union of Teachers.
However, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), which is currently demanding a 15 per cent wage hike, and the NUPW, which is pressing Government for a 23 per cent pay hike as well as a coping subsidy for its members in view of recent tax increases, have since made it clear that neither CTUSAB nor Murrell could speak for them on the issue of pay.
In fact, NUPW General Secretary Rosalyn Smith told Barbados TODAY late last week that her union had always negotiated its own pay, while maintaining that the 23 per cent demand was still on the table with negotiations with the Ministry of the Civil Service expected to resume in another two weeks.
In a similar vain, BWU General Secretary Toni Moore told Barbados TODAY that CTUSAB does not negotiate on behalf of her union which is also pressing forward with its 15 per cent demand.
However, in response to the positions issued by the two major public sector unions, Alleyne said “even though trade unions are political by their work, the request shows a clear bias”.