Public servants will receive their promised five per cent salary increase in August.
This disclosure today from Director of Finance and Economic Affairs Ian Carrington, who explained that paperwork for salaries was completed in advance, therefore the increase could not be added to July’s salary.
“We are readying ourselves to include the five per cent increase on the August wages and salaries of employees in central Government and statutory boards,” Carrington said in a release issued by the Barbados Government Information Service this evening.
He also said Government was hoping to have the back pay, which will be due for the April to July period, paid by September, “so public servants can use that money for back-to-school expenses”.
It was during her June 11 Budget presentation that Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley had promised to honour her party’s election campaign promise of a wage hike for public servants.
She explained that agreement had been reached between the Ministry of the Civil Service and the island’s public service unions for a five per cent, across-the-board increase, applicable for the period April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019, which is expected to cost Government $60 million.
However, the seeming ease with which the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) in particular had acquiesced to the Mottley Government’s offer after refusing for months to deviate from its demands for a double digit 23 per cent pay increase from the previous Freundel Stuart-led Government, had triggered suggestions from at least one outspoken trade unionist that it had sold old the workers.
Caswell Franklyn, who was recently appointed an Opposition Senator, went as far as to refer to the NUPW’s leadership as “political prostitutes” over its handling of the pay deal.
However, during a meeting this evening with a handful of members to discuss the five per cent salary increase received from Government, NUPW President Akanni McDowall again defended the apparent climb down from the 23 per cent pay demand saying, “23 per cent demand was our starting negotiation position and represented from 2010-2018 at an average of 2.8 per cent per year”.
He also argued that the five per cent received was for just one year – 2018 to 2019 – adding that “we restart negotiations in 2019 and will take into consideration the previous years that public servants did not receive any salary increases”.
Despite recent internal wrangling over the matter and the apparent low turn out by just about 20 members for this evening’s meeting, McDowall reported that “all of them as a matter of fact are very pleased with the position with the union”.
He said that this third general meeting was held “mainly to provide a forum for members to seek clarity on the salary and wage negotiations, recently held with the new Government”.
The union president further explained that he had summoned members in response to reports “in the public that there were members out there who had genuine concerns about why the union accepted the level of percentage increase, so we felt the need to provide an additional forum for those members to have any questions answered that they needed to be answered by the leadership of the union”.
“The meeting went well.”
“Members are very happy with the position of the union and I am very happy with the position of the union,” he said after stepping out the 5 p.m. meeting to give an update.
A circular had been sent out to the thousands of members inviting them to meet today at the NUPW’s Dalkeith headquarters to get clarification, discuss and raise any issues they had with the five per cent salary increase.
“Not many members turned up because I don’t think many of them would have had questions. Clearly if [they did] they would have been here.
“But the members that turned up didn’t have many questions to ask, and the few questions that they asked were decisively answered,” McDowall told Barbados TODAY.
“There were not many questions on why we accepted the percentage increase, and the feedback that I received from the meeting, members are generally pleased,” he said before returning to the meeting to discuss other unrelated issues.