BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Saturday January 28, 2017 – The Freundel Stuart administration has been given “one last chance” to return to the negotiating table to discuss the protracted salary increase for civil servants, says President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall.
Following a two-hour meeting with public sector employees yesterday, McDowall told reporters his members had taken strong exception to the vote by parliamentarians this week to restore their salaries and that of other senior Government officers who had taken a ten per cent cut back in 2014 at the height of austerity.
Amid an ongoing wage freeze for civil servants, who have not enjoyed a pay hike since 2009, despite having higher taxes and a higher cost of living, McDowall said the workers also made it clear they were no longer interested in any dialogue, only firm action in support of their pay demands.
The NUPW is currently seeking a 23 per cent rise for Government workers.
However, to date there has been no firm agreement on the matter with both NUPW officials and their members seemingly anxious for a resumption of the wage talks, which have been suspended since last October.
In fact, while Friday afternoon’s meeting was attended by fewer than 100 workers, NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith said the level of frustration expressed was “as if we had ten thousand people in there this afternoon.
“It is a thread that goes right through the public service where persons have been disadvantaged for so long that even if you had one person, they would bring the feelings of all the members of the public service,” she explained.
And though not ruling out the possibility of industrial action, McDowall assured that “as a responsible union what we would do is make sure that the process is followed to give Government one more opportunity to come back to the table because we want to follow the process, despite what people might say”.
The union president was however unwilling to go into details on the actual proposals that have been left on the table, even though he suggested that the NUPW would be willing to accept a reasonable compromise.
“What we will not do is throw out the baby with the bath water. We will ask for whatever is reasonable for Government to give,” he said. (Barbados Today)