Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Colin Jordan has described as “wicked”, suggestions that the trade unions had betrayed public workers by accepting a five per cent salary increase for April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.
In his contribution to the debate on the so-called mini Budget presented on Monday by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Jordan said the initial demand by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) for a 23 per cent pay rise to cover the past eight years was a bargaining position, which is normal practice in wage negotiations.
For this reason, the Member of Parliament for St Peter and former tourism executive said, there was nothing unusual about the workers’ representatives agreeing to a five per cent increase for one year.
“I was once faced across the table with a union with a proposal for a 25 per cent pay increase along with increases in other benefits,” Jordan told the Lower House.
“Those involved in the [trade union] movement understand that where you start is not where you expect to end. That goes not just for workers and their representatives, it also goes for employers [and] business people. Where you begin is not where you expect to end. Trade unions have a method.
“To suggest that the unions have betrayed the workers is contemptuous. It is unkind at best, wicked at worst to suggest that the leaders of the labour movement have betrayed the workers,” he stressed.
Following the disclosure that Government and the unions had reached a deal, Opposition Senator and leader of the Unity Workers Union Caswell Franklyn had described the NUPW leadership as “political prostitutes” for accepting the settlement.
Jordan did not mention Franklyn by name but said “persons, especially those involved in the trade union movement, including a person who now sits in the other place, ought to know, and ought not to be uncharitable in accusing the unions of betraying the workers”.
The minister insisted that the deal had the support of the labour movement, and that workers understood the difficult situation facing the country.
“We could not give to the public servants what we believe was their full desserts because of the situation, and the public servants to their credit understand that and have accepted the agreement for five per cent,” he stressed.