by Donella Hosten
The Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) met on Friday, 28 July 2017 with the government’s negotiation team, which comprised Anna Brizan and Beryl Isaac, to settle on their $2000 one-off salary increase payment for public workers.
In March of this year, after months of negotiations and heated discussions, the government paid public servants a sum of $1000, with the perception that in July 2017, they would continue negotiations for the rest of the monies requested by the Unions.
Government affirmed the unions that this payment would happen, providing that the fiscal space allows. However, after meeting with the union’s leadership last Friday, the government appeared unprepared to offer the unions the one-off payment of $2000 for the structural adjustment period of 2013-2016.
Initially, the unions were requesting $3000, but, according to Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the PWU, Brian Grimes, it was understood after the first $1000 was paid, that they would be able to get the requested figures from the government. Hence, they went into Friday’s meeting with confidence and high anticipation.
According to Grimes, “the government is out from under the ominous cloud of the IMF and they can [now] operate with a free hand so that we can negotiate in better faith.” However, Friday’s meeting proved otherwise, as government’s negotiation team’s offer — which was not disclosed — was again rejected by the unions.
Grimes went on to strengthen his points, stating that based on the economic environment now, which includes the continued robust revenue collections by the Customs Department and the Inland Revenue Department, as well as the recent increase in IMANI workers’ stipend/salaries, “from these moves, it tells us that government is in a position to honour the $2000.”
Although Grimes described the meeting as ‘fairly cordial,’ he noted that ‘at this juncture, a serious offer has not been put on the table.’ Therefore, all 3 parties will meet again on Thursday, 3 August 2017, for serious negotiations, which ought to be beneficial to all involved.
The unions believe that their workers have made enough sacrifices throughout Grenada’s Structural Adjustment period and that they ought to be rewarded accordingly by the government. They also consider that there is a great strength in unity, hence PWU and TAWU are negotiating together. The Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), is said to be negotiating on its own on this same matter, for which a palatable offer is yet to be reached.