by Donella Hosten
The 2017 May Day celebrations held at Gouyave, St John, became somewhat anti-climatic when Hon Oliver Joseph gave his speech regarding the pensions of public workers.
Just a few weeks ago, the PWU and TAWU took to the streets in protest about the ongoing no pension issue. A public and substantial statement to be made on 1 May 2017 by Labour Minister, Hon. Joseph was promised. According to Brian Grimes, PRO of the PWU, “What he did before May Day was to create a buzz based on promises made to public workers and the leadership of the Trade Unions.”
Contrary to what was promised, Joseph’s speech on May Day was “something fundamentally different,” therefore, “the wounds suffered by the minister were self-inflicted, and brought on by his overpromising and underdelivering,” Grimes commented.
Grimes noted that in the eyes of the unions, Hon. Oliver Joseph is a very solid labour minister, as he emerged from the “belly of the trade union movement.” Despite this view, “he will go down in the lore of May Day infamy for the speech.”
They believe that what transpired was the regular political rhetoric, which resulted in a disappointed manner that the public officers behaved on that day. However, Grimes believes that they need to move forward and are expecting a proper resolution as soon as yesterday, “…but, we are not going to live on promises.”
The Pension Disqualification Act has been around for about 30 years. It states that public workers who entered the workforce after 4 April 1983, will not receive a government pension.
He affirmed that the unions would be taking a relentless and resilient approach to ensure that the people who are on the verge of retirement can rest psychologically.
When probed about what was next on the agenda for the union, the young PRO commented, “As far as the agenda of the Trade Union movement, pension is 1, pension is 2 and pension is 3. It is at the pinnacle of the agenda and the objective of all the major unions in this country.”
In recent times, Prime Minister Mitchell has vowed that his administration will do what it takes to have the matter sorted out as best, and as quickly as possible.