by Linda Straker
- GUT and the Government Negotiating Team agreed on comprehensive settlement to salary increase dispute
- Effective August 2021, public officers will begin receiving 4% increase due for 2021
- GUT memo informed date for 7 months retroactive will be 31 October 2021
Finance Minister Gregory Bowen has explained that the wage dispute that was settled during mediation will not see the Government issuing bonds to a financial institution. Public sector workers will be cashing in the bonds with a credible financial institution that has agreed to accept them.
“The arrangement is that the Government will issue the bonds, but the Government has not taken an initiative that it will go out there and find an institution. An institution may have presented itself to the Grenada Union of Teachers, so they will get the bonds and then they will put it to that institution,” said Finance Minister Bowen.
“As far as the Ministry of Finance is concerned, what will be recorded so that the external agencies like the ECCB, IMF and the others who are looking on very closely will see that it is a bond,” Bowen said during the weekly post-cabinet briefing on Wednesday, 4 August 2021. “And if an institution, a bank institution or another financial institution says that we will take the bonds, we have no problem with that because that is what bonds are for, you could keep your bond or you could cash it in. So, the institution is saying we will cash those bonds, so we will issue those bonds,” Bowen stated.
“I think that has eased up on the minds of the teachers. They will get the bonds, and they will bring it to the institution and the institution will give them cash,” said Bowen who was assigned the post of Finance Minister in October 2020.
Last week Friday, a news release from the Government Information Service (GIS) said that after several rounds of talks mediated by the Labour Minister Peter David, the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) and the Government Negotiating Team reached an agreement on a comprehensive settlement to the salary increase dispute which disrupted industrial relations among some public officers. Government had sought a deferral in the payment of increases for 2021 due to economic conditions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequently proposed that payments would begin in August. However, payment for the first 7 months of 2021 was still a point of contention.
“Friday’s agreement effectively settles the matter. 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 the release.
The 4% increase due to public officers was agreed upon in the 2019 Collective Agreement, for the period 2020 to 2022, between Government and trade unions representing public sector employees. Starting in January 2020, as agreed, and continuing all through that year, despite the economic fallout from the pandemic, the Government honoured the agreement and state employees received the agreed increase.
A memo published on the Facebook page of the Grenada Union of Teachers and addressed to all members informed them that the date for the 7 months retroactive will be 31 October 2021. “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 the memo which was issued to confirm that the Government and the Union had reached a final agreement.
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