The umbrella trade union representative body here says the fiscal measures announced in the so-called mini Budget presented in the House of Assembly this morning by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley will diminish the value of the just agreed salary increase for public workers.
At the same time, President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) Cedric Murrell said that having been fully briefed on the state of the economy, the labour movement has accepted that tough measures had to be taken to restore economic growth.
“With regard to the salary raise, we are indeed pleased that Government could find a way to be able to reward public officers. We do know that the measures will have an impact on diminishing of that salary raise, but at this stage, we are also happy that we were consulted extensively and the picture painted with regards to where the country stood economically. Once we were very clear on that, we will have to accept that measures had to be put in place,” Murrell told Barbados TODAY.
Mottley announced today that her Government and the public sector trade unions had agreed a five per cent across-the-board wage and salary increase for the period April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, but no increases for 2014 to 2018.
While describing the Budget as a tough one, the CTUSAB leader acknowledged that the present bleak economic circumstances required decisive action.
“The Budget is a tough budget for the country, but it has been fashioned out of adversity and therefore one couldn’t expect much different. One trusts and hopes that the measures that are being implemented would be able in as short a time as possible, get us onto a growth path, which is the only path really that our country [should] be on that will make sense,” he said.
Murrell said the other major factor was that the Social Partnership and Government had sworn to protect the Barbados dollar and therefore the fiscal measures must be ongoing.
Meantime, President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall welcomed the pay increase, but said any proposal put forward by the union in future would have to take into consideration the years when there were no pay rises.
McDowall also hit back at critics who accused the NUPW of accepting the five per cent increase from the new Barbados Labour Party) administration following just days of negotiations, after having fought the then Freundel Stuart Government tooth and nail for a 23 per cent pay hike.
“The difference between 23 per cent and what we are given now is that the 23 per cent was from 2010 until 2018. So if you divide those eight years, you would see that it’s about 2.87 per cent to be exact per year,” he argued, adding that Mottley should be commended for the way in which she spoke about the public sector.
“We have not heard any minister speak about the public service in that way and I think the public service ought to be comfortable with the efforts of the new administration,” the NUPW leader noted.
The budgetary measures delivered by Mottley include the repeal of the National Social Responsibility Levy from July 1, which should result in a drop in retail prices, the abolition of the road tax to be replaced by a fuel tax on gasoline, diesel and kerosene, also effective July 1, the introduction of a health service contribution of 2.5 per cent of salary incomes from October 1 and the imposition of Valued Added Tax on online transactions by Barbadians.