by Linda Straker
- Effective August 2021, public officers will begin receiving 4% increase due for 2021
- 30 July agreement described as a comprehensive settlement to salary increase dispute
- 4% wage/salary increase for public officers will add $13.2 million to Government’s annual wage bill
An unnamed financial institution has come to the rescue of the Government by purchasing a 12-month bond of EC$7.7 million at an interest rate of 3%. The money gained will be used to settle the outstanding salary increase due to public sector workers for the period January to July 2021.
“Effective August 2021, public officers will begin receiving the 4% increase due for 2021. The retroactive payment, due for the period January to July 2021, will be met by a financial institution which has agreed to accept the Government-issued 12-month bonds, in exchange for paying teachers, upfront in cash,” said a news release from the Government Information Service (GIS) which announced that a settlement was reached with the various trade unions.
“The parties were informed that discussions were held between the mediator and a credible financial institution after which the institution agreed to pay cash into the accounts of teachers by the stipulated date,” said a memo published on the Facebook page of the Grenada Union of Teachers and addressed to all members. The date will be 31 October 2021 and the mediator was Labour Minister Peter David.
Government had initially offered the bond collectively to workers. This meant that the public workers will not only receive the outstanding 7 months payment but at the end of the 12 months period, an additional sum of 3% to the outstanding amount. However, the unions rejected the bonds and demanded upfront cash payment as outstanding for the months January to July 2021.
The settlement came after several rounds of talks mediated by Minister David, the Grenada Union of Teachers and the Government Negotiating Team. The agreement which was reached on Friday, 30 July 2021 is described as a comprehensive settlement to the salary increase dispute which disrupted industrial relations among some public officers.
Government and the trade unions representing various public officers signed a collective agreement in 2019 covering a 4% increase for the years 2020 to 2022. But in late 2020 the Government sought a deferral in the payment of increases for 2021 due to economic conditions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The impact from the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of Grenada’s borders and a literal shutdown of the economy. Government said that this action resulted in a dramatic decline in Government’s revenue, of more than 50%.
However, the unions and some of their members responded by taking industrial action to demand the 4% increase which the state has so far been unable to pay. Government then proposed that payments would begin in August, but payment for the first 7 months of 2021 was still a point of contention.
The 4% wage/salary increase for public officers will add $13.2 million to the Government’s annual wage bill, at a rate of about $1.1 million per month. Statistics provided by the Ministry of Finance and shared with the trade unions, indicate that a 4% increase will bring the Government’s wage bill for 2021 to $337.6 million, up from $324.4 million in 2020. Similarly, pension payments would increase from $46.3 in 2020 to $48.1 million in 2021 and NIS contributions from $14.1 million to $14.6 million.
The news release from Government said that Head of the Government’s Negotiating Team Oliver Joseph and President of the Grenada Union of Teachers Jude Bartholomew, who led the union’s team, have expressed the hope that the industrial climate will be normalised.
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