Barbados Trade Union Gives Up Hope of Pre-Election Pay Hike for Public Servants

NUPW President Akanni McDowall says the fulfilment of any deal struck at this stage would be dependent on the party that forms the next Government.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday March 6, 2018
– Barbados’ largest public sector trade union has virtually given up hope of striking a wages deal with the Freundel Stuart administration before the general election, due by early June.

In fact, with Parliament set be automatically dissolved today, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is suggesting that any hope of securing a pay increase for public servants will rest with an incoming Government.

In order for workers to get a pay hike before the general election, Parliament has to approve a supplementary to the 2017-2018 Budget. In addition, statutory emoluments such as salaries have to be approved by an Act of Parliament.

NUPW President Akanni McDowall told the Barbados Today online newspaper that the fulfilment of any deal struck at this stage would be dependent on the party that forms the next Government.

“Yes, you can still have negotiations with Government and hope that the incoming administration will honour any agreement made between the unions and the Government. Maybe it would not be fair to those coming in, but we have to treat it as a commitment nonetheless,” he said.

The Ministry of the Civil Service last week hinted that Government wanted progress made in wages and salary negotiations before the polls.

Permanent Secretary Alyson Forte said at the time he had been given a fresh mandate – which he declined to disclose – that would be sent out to the three main unions, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), early this week.

Pressed to reveal what he would offer the public workers, Forte had called for patience, repeating that “by next week, they will be able to get some feedback as to what my mandate is”.

However, McDowall said the union was yet to receive formal correspondence from the ministry, and in any event there was no guarantee that it would be willing to entertain the administration at this stage.

“The executive committee and/or the national council of the NUPW will determine whether or not we should continue to negotiate at this stage. We have not had a response from Government officially to correspondence that we sent in January. Unofficially, we heard that the Ministry of the Civil Service was given a mandate to negotiate. We will wait until we receive something in black and white.

“I do not think that Government has so far taken public servants seriously enough.”

The last time Government met with the NUPW, the administration made a BDS$49 million (US$24.5 million) lump sum offer as a coping subsidy, which the union rejected, demanding instead BDS$60 million (US$30 million) and a 23 per cent pay rise. (Barbados Today)

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