by Linda Straker
- Public officers who are engaging in industrial action over a deferral 4% increase in salary
- Government to support MBIA with EC$1 million per month for 2021
- Reduction in Government revenue linked directly to measures enforced to deal with Covid-19
Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is questioning the decision by Government to support the operations of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) with EC$1 million per month for 2021, instead of reaching a settlement with public officers who are engaging in industrial action over a deferral 4% increase in salary.
“The airport is important, but is it a priority at this time having regards for what is happening in the world?” Thomas asked in response to questions about Government’s decision to support the airport so that it can remain operating while experiencing significant reduction in revenue.
“Again, where the priority lies, I think that Government should show some regard to those who are working for the state machinery; those who are working for the state and public workers should be given some regard,” said Thomas as he called for a speedy settlement between the parties.
“Airport management is working feverishly to further cut back on operational costs and the GAA has been engaging staff and other stakeholders to work together to develop strategies to navigate through this unprecedented period. The GAA has also sought out and received assistance from Government, which will amount to one million dollars each month, for the rest of 2021,” said a statement from the Government Information Service, under the headline, “Financial fallout from Covid-19 pandemic pushes Grenada Airports Authority (GAA) to engage in further cost-cutting.” The release said that the crippling effect of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is forcing the GAA to examine more stringent cost-cutting measures to eliminate its monthly deficit of $2.2 million.
“Statistics show that aircraft movement declined by more than 50% between 2019 and 2020. Prior to the pandemic, that figure stood at 12,970 compared to 6,015 in 2020. Similarly, passenger movement declined by 72%, moving from 447,522 persons in 2019 to 126,336 in 2020.” The release from the statutory body confirmed that the drop-off in aircraft movement has led to the nearly complete paralysis of both aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues for Grenada’s international airport.
As of early February 2021, public workers especially members of the Grenada Union of Teachers began taking a different form of industrial protest after the Government failed to increase salaries by 4%. That increase was signed too in a 3-year agreement that will last until 2022 before another negotiated period.
The Government in late 2020 informed the unions that it will be unable to pay the increase as signed for in the last 3-year collective agreement because of reducing revenue. The reduction is being linked directly to measures enforced to deal with Covid-19.
“Covid-19 has, without question, significantly disrupted life as we know it and Government has had to bear the brunt of the impact. In the blink of an eye, Government had to take immediate, emergency policy action to provide support to households and businesses, which involved significant unplanned expenditure,” said a statement from Government in January 2021. The government’s wage bill will increase by EC$13.2 million with this 4% increase.”