by Linda Straker
- Trade unions in representing public officers call off industrial protest
- Bishop Clyde Harvey intervenes
- PWU requests all members to report as normal for work tomorrow Tuesday
Acting Labour Minister Anthony Boatswain has confirmed that trade unions in Grenada representing public officers decided to call off the industrial protest because of government’s commitment to new offers on the negotiating table.
Boatswain indicated he wrote to the teachers union explaining that government will adopt new positions, and also that when he met with the unions representing essential services workers, he would send the dispute to an arbitration tribunal. “It was then they announced that they will go back to the negotiation table and called off the industrial protest,” said Boatswain.
“As a result of that commitment from the unions, there was now no need to appoint an arbitration tribunal,” he said as he explained that teachers are not essential services workers. “That is I why I wrote to them; the arbitration was for essential workers,” admitting that discussions were happening with all the unions to solve the impasse.
A statement issued from the Government Information Service (GIS) on Monday quoted Boatswain, “Having invoked my powers under the Labour Relations Act and summoned a meeting of the disputing parties today to discuss arbitration, the meeting ended with an agreement to resume the pension talks.
“I have been reliably informed by the leadership of the trade unions that all industrial action will cease and workers, in particular, our teachers, will return to the classroom as of Tuesday, 27 November.”
Thanking the leadership of the public sector trade unions for their understanding in this matter and for their recognition that the national interest and the interest of our nation’s children supersede all other interests, Boatswain said he was very gratified to have been of some assistance in getting the public sector trade unions and in particular, the Grenada Union of Teachers to cease all industrial action and to return to the bargaining table to seek a permanent solution to the current industrial dispute.
“It is my wish that a permanent solution will be found to this dispute that will benefit all concerned,” the statement said.
Following the minister’s statement, the Grenada Public Workers Union (PWU) published an announcement informing members that following the intervention of Bishop Clyde Harvey, Bishop of the Catholic Church, and the agreement of government to discontinue the arbitration process with the PWU and GTAWU, the PWU requested all members to report as normal for work tomorrow Tuesday, 27 November 2018.
The unions and government’s Pension Engagement Committee team will continue negotiations discussion on Tuesday, 27 November 2018.
The industrial protest began the first week of November 2108 when the Grenada Union of Teachers instructed its members to stay off the job because of government’s refusal to accept its 25% gratuity on pension. Government proposed 2%. Later in the week, the Public Workers Union announced that its workers were taking a solidarity stance, and since then a wide cross-section of public workers has been on the job 2 or 3 days per week.
Last week Tuesday, a march and rally were held in which hundreds of workers paraded through the streets of St George’s chanting and displaying placards calling on government to accept the 25%.
Government has continuously said it cannot afford the 25% because it will violate the Fiscal Responsibility Legislation. During last week Wednesday’s budget presentation, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said that accepting that percentage would financially cripple the nation.
The unions and government’s pension negotiating team held a meeting last Friday and by evening the unions instructed members to remain at home from 26 to 28 November.
On Saturday, 24 November government issued a news release saying that Acting Minister for Labour, Honourable Anthony Boatswain would be 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). A meeting was set for 8:30 am on Monday.