Fresh NUPW proposal to Govt
FROM LEFT, Fabian Jones, Akanni Mcdowall, Delcia Burke and Asokore Beckles of the National Union of Public Workers addressing the media after last night’s meeting.
THE EXECUTIVE of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) will be sending a counter-proposal to the Ministry of the Civil Service as early as today on what it believes is an adequate “coping mechanism” for public servants.
This was one of the decisions made after the NUPW executive held a two-hour, closed-door meeting with membership at its Dalkeith, St Michael headquarters last night.
The union has been agitating for a coping mechanism for public servants since they have not received a salary increase for the past nine years.
General treasurer Asokore Beckles said Government had presented two scenarios for the mechanism, but the union did not agree with either of them, and so its counter-proposal.
He said the NUPW had been negotiating with the ministry for the past two years and while there was “a level of rigidity”, the union remained open to negotiation.
The new proposal will be sent to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today.
Beckles told the media workers would have heard the Prime Minister’s promise at the Social Partnership meeting on August 11.
“The Prime Minister would have said that by the end of September he would have an idea as to the performance of the NSRL [National Social Responsibility Levy], and we’ve heard the Minister of Finance [Chris Sinckler] come out publicly and say that it is performing very well,” he said.
He added that workers were disappointed no firm offer had been presented.
President Akanni Mcdowall made it clear this new offer was separate from salary negotiations.
“This payment is a coping mechanism because the coping subsidy was in a different form. This is something that is being offered by Government in a slightly different form from what we were asking for . . . . We understand the concept behind it, we understand the reason because we proposed those reasons, and therefore we are saying that we will give Government a counter-proposal so that we can meet the needs of our members,” he said.
While the meeting was in full swing, shouting could be heard from the outside. When asked about the passion that seemed to be present during proceedings, general secretary Roslyn Smith said workers felt insulted because the Ministry of the Civil Service offered what it called a scenario, rather than a firm proposal.
While no timeline was given for the one-off payment to be made, the scenario presented said it would be non-taxable and non-pensionable. The scale of payment was between two and five per cent.
When pressed as to whether he thought the negotiations would extend past the general election due next year, Mcdowall said he hoped not.
“The union has to negotiate, keeping in mind that the members have not received a salary increase for a number of years. Although we take into consideration the fact that an election is around the corner, we still have to ensure that we negotiate the best possible deal for our members, and I think that is where our focus is right now.
“. . . . It is our hope that this can be completed, and by the end of January the workers can have something in their pockets, if not sooner,” he said. ( RA)