by Linda Straker
- Anthony Boatswain to act while Minister for Labour Peter David is out of state
- Acting Minister intends to send dispute to arbitration tribunal
- Essential services to be protected and maintained in interest of economy and public
The government has appointed Anthony Boatswain, Member of Parliament for the constituency of St Patrick West to act as labour minister in the absence of Minister for Labour Peter David.
Press Secretary Philomena Robertson said that this move is not a cabinet reshuffle, but Boatswain is acting until David returns.
Boatswain, who is the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and a member of the Public Accounts Committee, is one of 2 members of parliament who was not appointed to serve in ministerial portfolios following the 13 March General Election. The ruling New National Party (NNP) administration was re-elected without any opposition in the Lower House of Parliament.
A news release from the Government Information Service (GIS) said that Acting Minister for Labour, Honourable Anthony Boatswain is taking immediate action to seek a solution to resolve the dispute between the Pension Engagement Committee and the trade unions and staff associations, on the matter of the advanced payment of pension (gratuity).
The release explained that the minister, having been briefed, has invoked his powers under the Labour Relations Act, CAP 157A, Part VIII, Section (3) (a) and has advised the disputing parties, that he intends to send this dispute to an arbitration tribunal.
The release said that Minister Boatswain has written to the trade unions which represent essential service workers, the Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) based on the threat contained in their correspondence of Friday, 23 November. In that correspondence, it was stated that the unions had called their members back out on strike and it will now include strategic services of GTAWU.
Since 5 November public sector unions have stayed off the job 2 or 3 times per week as part of its industrial protest for government to accept paying retirees 25% gratuity upon retirement. Government is offering 2%.
The release from the GIS said that Boatswain considers it prudent and advisable that the dispute is sent to an arbitration tribunal and that the essential services of hospitals, electricity, telecommunications, water and sewerage among others, be protected and maintained in the interest of the economy and the public. The meeting is set for the Ministry of Labour on Monday, 26 November at 8:30 am.
“The Minister upholds the view that the law lays down procedures for the resolution of disputes in essential services and the time has come for the matter to be resolved by an independent and impartial tribunal,” the release said.
Minister Peter David had informed Parliament while deliberating on the 2019 budget that he would be travelling to Dubai on state business.
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