St Lucia trade union officials 'insulted' by government response

CASTRIES, St.Lucia, Thursday November 29, 2012 – Disgruntled officials of the Trade Union Federation (TUF) stormed out of wage talks with Government Wednesday claiming they felt insulted at the administration’s zero response to their wage proposal for public sector workers for the 2010-2013 triennium.

TUF officials who placed a request for a 16 per cent increase spread over three years were stunned by the government’s proposed wage freeze over the three year period and immediate payment of EC$1000 Christmas bonus.

“At the meeting with the Government negotiating team we were offered a wage freeze. We were told to take zero for the first year, zero for the second year and zero for the third year and in lieu of that to accept a one-time payment of one thousand dollars.

We indicated to the government negotiation team that we consider the offer an insult, and therefore we were unable to continue any discussions with them,” Monrose said.

The TUF official said their request for a 16 percent increase would involve an increase of five per cent in the first year, five per cent in the second and six per cent in the third.

But he said based on the response of the Government’s negotiation team the unions will now be meeting separately with their members, cautioning that the government team should allow good sense to prevail at the soonest.

“The survival of this country is important to all of us, we all live here so we take everything into consideration. We feel just as responsible as anyone else to save this country when it needs saving, so we are not in a position to contemplate any form of industrial action at this time. The only immediate action we will embark on is to continue to consult our members and continue to talk to the government negotiating team in the hope that good sense will prevail,” he added.

The wage talks between Trade Union Federation and the government negotiators are several months overdue and were only able to get underway this week following the intervention of Prime Minister Kenny Anthony.

The Federation, which appeared to have been gearing up for some form of protest action over the delay, had issued an ultimatum to government requesting the commencement of negotiations by Thursday last week.

Monrose says he hopes to wrap up discussions on wages by December 12. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)