by Linda Straker
- GTAWU members to commence industrial protest on Friday
- GUT members began protest on Wednesday
- Government accused of having 2 different books to keep their finances by PWU president
Failure by Government to comply with the signed collective bargaining agreement that requires public servants’ salaries to reflect a 4% increase by 31 January 2021, can result in heightened industrial actions among the affected union members.
“Different things shall unfold.” Andre Lewis, President General of the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU), called on members of his union to commence industrial protest on Friday by wearing the union’s T-shirt or a garment that is black or red. “Struggles have a way of unfolding and we assure you that we will keep you abreast as we go along. There are different activities that shall be undertaken, the timing will always be ours.” Lewis accused the Government’s negotiating team of displaying untrustworthy patterns.
“It is important to make the point that there is unity in diversity and as you have recognised that there are at least 3 unions involved in this matter, but it is wider than 3 unions because the police and all have to benefit,” Lewis said.
At the centre of the contention between Government and the trade unions representing public officers is Government’s request for a deferral of the 4% which was scheduled to go into effect as of January 2021. Government said it cannot currently afford to increase its wage bill because of reduced income caused by Covid-19 economic measures.
The unions contend that Government is not truthful because it was able to find US$60 million to repurchase the majority shares from WRB Enterprises, the USA company which had majority shares in GRENLEC, the country’s lone electricity company.
Frankson Marshall, second vice president of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) confirmed that its members began the protest on Wednesday, 26 January by wearing red, and its approach to resolving the issue will be based on the dispute clause of the collective agreement.
Marshall explained that the GUT agreement has a clause which regularises how a dispute should be handled, beginning with the lodging of a complaint with the labour commissioner in the Ministry of Labour.
“If that proves unsuccessful, mediation; if it still unsuccessful then it’s arbitration. These are the steps outlined in our dispute mechanism …we will follow the steps and stick to it, thereafter we will adapt to the situation,” said Marshall.
Rachel Roberts, President of the Public Workers Union (PWU), said that if there was an industrial court in Grenada the unions will easily win the matter because it’s a legal collective agreement that the employer is unilaterally breaching.
“We say pay us our money…we have taken enough trickery,” said Roberts who accused the Government of engaging in financial deceit by having 2 different books to keep their finances.
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