The island’s top public sector trade union said it plans to demand a pay rise for civil servants soon after a Government is installed following tomorrow’s general election.
In its election manifesto released yesterday, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) said in order to secure the full participation of public workers, the new administration would have to give them an immediate salary and wage increase even before the implementation of any economic plan.
“The NUPW is requesting immediate considerations be addressed before any economic plan is implemented. We are strongly of the view that public servants must be incentivized in order to have their full participation. Therefore, an immediate salary increase for all public officers must be met,” the union warned in the 21-page Workers’ Manifesto which contains many elements that closely resemble campaign promises made by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Under the sub-heading Fair and Adequate Compensation, the NUPW lamented that public sector workers have not had a pay rise in almost ten years despite the “continuous” imposition of taxes and rises in the cost of living, among other factors,
The NUPW also suggested a change to the present minimum wages apparatus which it said made it difficult for employees to get an increase, especially considering that “Barbados is universally known as a high-cost country”.
“Obviously there is no mechanism in place to insist on the control of pricing of goods and/or services,” it stated.
It said that despite the best efforts of trade unions, there was still too much disparity across Barbadian workplaces, while stressing that workers earned more and had greater protection whenever there was a strong trade union movement.
The issue of health and safety on the job also appeared high on the agenda of the NUPW, which stated in its document that “the factory inspectorate should be replaced by a workplace inspection agency whose staff would be mandated to work in collaboration with workplace health and safety committees”.
With respect to pension reform the union appeared to endorse BLP plans to raise pensions, with a call for trade unions and staff association to establish what was being proposed, while stating that the unions must also be in the vanguard of any reform.
The NUPW also reiterated a submission it had made to the Freundel Stuart administration as part of its salary negotiations, that all temporary or acting officers who were working for more than three years continuously, should be appointed without having to go through a selection process.
The trade union also touched on the issue of work permits, stating for a densely populated country such as Barbados, there was a need for an effective work permit system, bearing in mind the island’s commitment to the Caribbean Community in relation to freedom of movement of skilled nationals, as well as the right of establishment that includes a work permit appeal mechanism.
Other major proposals include easing of the “burdensome” taxes by targeting the National Social Responsibility Levy and the Value Added Tax, both BLP campaign promises, the introduction of more equitable taxation measures, adoption of more effective revenue collection measures, introduction of a contractor general, a review of the structure of the Central Bank and insulation of the office from undue political influence, a review of the subsidies granted to extra-regional airlines and reform of the Senate, the Public Accounts Committee and Auditor General’s department.
The union also called for the retention of capital punishment for specific crimes, a review and amendment to the Constitution, reform of the constituency councils, strengthening of the justice system by introducing a lay magistracy and an independent element to the Police complaints body, the adoption and promotion of measures to improve productivity and competitiveness, establishment of a regime to regularly service Government buildings and the adoption and promotion of a green economy.
The NUPW is also asking for a deepening and widening of democracy by involving the social partners, the non-governmental organizations, community, the church and representation from special parliamentary committees in national governance.