Turks and Caicos civil servants threaten more strike action

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos, Monday November 28, 2011 – Civil servants are planning to down tools over the next two days over working conditions, and looming job cuts that take effect December 9.

The action by the Civil Service Association (CSA) follows two previous unsuccessful attempts to resolve the dispute.

The CSA said a meeting last Wednesday with representatives of the administration did not adequately address the concerns of its members, and an attempt to resume negotiations on Saturday failed.

As a result, the association stated, members voted unanimously to continue industrial action.

Their stated reasons include failure to consider staff redeployment before voluntary or compulsory redundancy, failure to complete a proper public sector reform assessment before redundancy, unfair pension policies, unfair right sizing practices and increased taxation.

More than 200 workers, among them teachers, immigration agents, doctors and government clerks took to the streets in protest last week.

It came in the wake of new austerity measures announced by the government, which is struggling to rein in spending to cope with a widening shortfall in revenue.

The Customs Processing Fee is due to be increased from next month, as well as the import duty tariff on alcohol and tobacco among others initiatives.

CEO of the Interim government Martin Stanley said in a statement that he has written to the CSA requesting a meeting to avert further strike action.

“However, it is not appropriate to meet when CSA members are on strike. Should the strike unfortunately continue through to Tuesday evening, the earliest that this meeting can take place is Wednesday, 30 November,” he said.

“The meeting will discuss the terms and conditions of employment of TCI Government employees. It is not appropriate for the CSA to link their ‘national issues’ to strike action by public servants.

“While the current administration will continue to discuss national issues with key stakeholder groups, including the hoteliers, tourism and financial sectors as well as the CSA, we must bear in mind that decisions on many of those issues will more properly fall to be decided by any new incoming administration following elections,” the CEO further stated. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)