CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Aug 3, CMC – Opposition Leader Stephenson King Friday called on public sector workers to demand from the union leaders the status of the stalled salary negotiations with the government.
King said that apart from the largely “symbolic Labour Code” which came into force here on Emancipation Day, workers here are in the dark over the re-start and completion of salary negotiations for the 2010/2011 to 2012/2013 triennium.
He said that the direction and outcome of these negotiations are no doubt critical for civil servants given the determination of the Kenny Anthony administration to implement the Value Added Tax (VAT) from October 1 and the expected impact on the spiralling cost of living.
“Public sector workers can refer to the fact that under the previous UWP (United Workers Party) government, they were granted salary increases of 14.5 per cent for the last triennium,” he said, adding that the concerns of government workers may stem from indications that the present administration does not intend to grant employees salary increases for the 2010-13 period.
“The UWP understands that during a presentation to public sector unions and the government negotiating team held on July 19th, 2012, the unions were informed that workers were over compensated during the last triennium under the UWP administration.
“Due to that perception on the part of the current administration, union leaders were informed that there is no space in the budget for increases for those with jobs and creating new jobs,” King said.
The former prime minister said that as such workers are being offered the option of zero, zero and three per cent for the triennium under negotiations by a government which campaigned on the promise “better days”.
He said these proposals are contained in a document titled “Update on Macro-economic Framework for Negotiations with Unions prepared by the Ministry of Finance”.
King said the UWP is of the view that “this proposal by the government is grossly inadequate and unrealistic given the skyrocketing prices of commodities and fuel and the impending imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT).
”Whilst the SLP (St. Lucia Labour Party)government is expecting workers to make sacrifices it continues to place a strain on the public purse by the burden of a fourteen member cabinet, and appointment of political attaches, legal advisors, and a number of permanent secretaries on contract, instead of promoting career civil servants,” King noted.
He said these are a few examples of the excesses of the present administration since coming to office last November.
“The United Workers Party calls on public sector workers to question the leadership of their unions and to demand what are justifiably due to them.
“This is the only way break free from the choke hold of Kenny Anthony and his Government, which if they are not vigilant may very well extend through the duration of the current Administration,” King added.