Trade Union body agrees to three year wage freeze

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The St. Lu­cia Trade Union Fed­er­a­tion (TUF) which groups most of the is­land’s pub­lic sec­tor unions, has agreed to a three-year wage freeze as part of ef­forts to help re­sus­ci­tate the econ­omy.

The decision was an­nounced in a state­ment ear­lier this week at the con­clu­sion of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Gov­ern­ment and the Fed­er­a­tion for the pe­riod April 2013 to March 2016.

The TUF has de­scribed the wage freeze of­fer as “a huge con­tri­bu­tion” to na­tional de­vel­op­ment, and ex­pressed hope that other sec­tions of the coun­try will follow the “good ex­am­ple” in mak­ing a sacrifice for coun­try in times of need.

“The Fed­er­a­tion con­veyed to gov­ern­ment its un­der­stand­ing of the cur­rent eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion fac­ing the coun­try and was ready to as­sist by mak­ing cer­tain sac­ri­fices to­wards alle­vi­a­tion of the sit­u­a­tion,” the state­ment signed by TUF Pres­i­dent, Ju­lian Mon­rose noted.

How­ever it made no ref­er­ence to gov­ern­ment’s re­quest for a five per cent wage cut for pub­lic sec­tor work­ers as part of gov­ern­ment’s pre­scrip­tion to deal with an EC$76 mil­lion fis­cal cri­sis.

While gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal for the wage cut had been ini­tially re­jected by all pub­lic sec­tor unions, Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony urged the pub­lic ser­vants to ei­ther keep it on the agenda or come up with al­ter­na­tive ways in which the fis­cal deficit could be funded.

While the TUF made a list of rec­om­men­da­tions, which in­cluded the in­tro­duc­tion of VAT (Value Added Tax) on elec­tric­ity, the St. Lu­cia Civil Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion (CSA), which is not a mem­ber of the TUF, re­fused to in­clude the wage cut in any dis­cus­sions with the GNT. In re­sponse to the decision of the TUF to ac­cept a wage freeze, CSA Pres­i­dent Mary Isaac said she was not sur­prised, and de­clined fur­ther com­ment un­til ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the CSA and gov­ern­ment are con­cluded.

Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony, who has not spo­ken pub­li­cally for sev­eral weeks on the state of the econ­omy, gave the unions sev­eral ul­ti­ma­tums for res­o­lu­tion of the wage cut is­sue, all of which have long passed.

Dur­ing his bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion in April this year, An­thony with­out prior con­sul­ta­tion with pub­lic ser­vice unions, leg­is­lated the 5 per cent wage cut which he said was ur­gently needed to re­solve the is­land’s fis­cal cri­sis.

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