The island’s largest public sector trade union has virtually given up hope of striking a wages deal with the Freundel Stuart administration before the general election, due by early June.
In fact, with Parliament set be automatically dissolved tomorrow, the National Union of Public Workers’ (NUPW) is suggesting that any hope of securing a pay increase for public servants will rest with an incoming Government.
In order for workers to get an increase before the general election Parliament has to approve a supplementary to the 2017-2018 Budget. In addition, statutory emoluments such as salaries have to be approved by an Act of Parliament.
NUPW President Akanni McDowall this afternoon told Barbados TODAY the fulfilment of any deal struck at this stage would be dependent on the party that forms the next Government.
“Yes, you can still have negotiations with Government and hope that the incoming administration will honour any agreement made between the unions and the Government. Maybe it would not be fair to those coming in but we have to treat it as a commitment nonetheless.” McDowall said.
The Ministry of the Civil Service last week hinted that Government wanted progress made in wages and salary negotiations before the polls.
Permanent Secretary Alyson Forte told Barbados TODAY at the time he had been given a fresh mandate –which he declined to disclose – that would be sent out to the three main unions, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), early this week.
Pressed to reveal what he would offer the public workers, Forte had called for patience, repeating that “by next week, they will be able to get some feedback as to what my mandate is”.
However, McDowall said the union was yet to receive formal correspondence from the ministry, and in any event there was no guarantee that it would be willing to entertain the administration at this stage.
“The executive committee and or the national council of the NUPW will determine whether or not we should continue to negotiate at this stage. We have not had a response from Government officially to correspondence that we sent in January. Unofficially, we heard that the Ministry of the Civil Service was given a mandate to negotiate. We will wait until we receive something in black and white.
“I do not think that Government has so far taken public servants seriously enough.
“I refer to sending correspondence and not receiving responses, which I find to be most disrespectful,” McDowall said.
“We requested meetings and were not given the opportunity to have those meetings. Even if you look at our discussions surrounding the coping mechanism – which we never rejected by the way – what we did, is simply present an alternative. Using that as an example, Government never responded to say whether they accepted or rejected the union’s alternative,” the NUPW president stressed.
The last time Government met with the NUPW, the administration made a $49 million lump sum offer as a coping subsidy, which the union rejected, demanding instead $60 million and a 23 per cent pay rise.
In late January Forte had hinted that the Stuart administration was willing to increase the lump sum, telling Barbados TODAY the offer put on the table in early December was not Government’s final position, but was advanced “just for discussion”.