by Linda Straker
- Trade union membership and other workers called on to vote out ruling administration
- Government called on to reinstate pension and gratuity package as provided for in constitution
One of Grenada’s trade union leaders has called on the membership and other workers to vote out the ruling New National Party (NNP)-Keith Mitchell administration which was returned to office approximately 14 months ago.
A general election is constitutionally due in 2023.
“We that have them there, we that vote them in, so when the time comes for us, vote them out. Five years is not a long time, I want them to remember that,” said President of the Grenada Union of Teachers, Lydon Lewis. He delivered remarks at the annual May Day celebrations which was held in the parish of St David for 2019.
Lewis called for the Government of Grenada to reinstate the pension and gratuity package as provided for in the constitution and said that while Members of Parliament ensure that those who served are provided with a pension, public workers who are the ones responsible for the positive economic outlook of the country are not treated equally. “Comrades, if I am not certain about anything, I am certain that pension and gratuity is an undeniable and irrefutable right of the public servant,” he told the workers as they cheered to his message.
Members of Parliament can receive a pension upon reaching the age of 60, once 8 or more years were spent as a member of either the Lower or Upper House of Parliament.
Public sector unions and government are presently before the court to settle the pension and gratuity issue which became a bone of contention since the Pension Disqualification Act was enforced as of February 1985. The act disqualifies persons who are appointed to the service of the Government of Grenada after 22 February 1985 from pensions, gratuities or other benefits under the scheduled enactments.
Though the legislation was approved by the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) in 1983, it was among a list of legislation that received the approval of the government which was elected in 1984 when the island returned to having a democratically elected government after the collapse of the PRG.
A public servant along with the Public Workers Union had challenged the matter in court and won. This resulted in her receiving her payment package and since then, the ruling NNP Keith Mitchell administration announced that it will work out towards restoring the pension package but through a reformed format.
That reformed format has become an issue which, in the latter part of 2018 saw public workers engaging different forms of industrial protest and the Cabinet instructing the Ministry of Finance to deduct salaries from public servants who stayed off the job.
That action of docking salaries has become a matter before the court and the teachers’ union announcing that it will work to rule.
While making their contributions at the rally, most of the other union leaders called for the settling of the pension and gratuity issue with government. Unions who represent the private sector complained about the violation of workers’ rights within that sector, which includes firing and retiring without complying with national legislation or collective bargaining agreements.
The day was observed under the theme: “Social and Economic Justice a must: Respect workers’ rights!”