Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, is hoping that Government will soon be able to resolve the dispute relating to the 4% salary increase due to public officers for 2021.
Given the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on revenue earnings, Government requested a deferral of the payment which would add about $13.2 million to the annual wage bill. Unions however, have been pressing for the payment of the increase and some teachers have resorted to various forms of industrial action.
At a meeting with senior education officials last week, the Prime Minister said, “The issue of the 4% increase clearly concerns all of us. Since Government signed the collective bargaining agreement with the trade unions representing public officers, the country’s revenue has declined dramatically. However, we are now seeing an uptick and although we are not yet where we were in 2019, we are hoping, that soon, we will be able to resolve this matter.”
Dr Mitchell further stated, “Government has never disputed the fact that it has an obligation to pay the 4% increase. Based on the increase in revenue collection, I think we are getting to the point where we would soon find some methodology to solving this dispute.”
According to the Prime Minister, finding a solution is critical. He said, “I am not worried about the political fallout from this dispute. What I am worried about is the education of the nation’s children and the future of this country. I assure you that Government is moving speedily to find a resolution. I do not want schools to reopen in September with this situation still unresolved. No one will benefit.”
Dr Mitchell also underscored the value of education saying, “Without an education, I would not have the opportunity to serve as Prime Minister, because I came from a poor family and education was the key to my success. I will not stand by and see the education system crumble and the children of the nation suffer. A solution is absolutely necessary going forward.”
Government’s Negotiating Team and the public sector trade unions representing workers, are in various stages of mediation, as provided for, in the settlement of industrial disputes.