ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jan 25, CMC – Prime Minister Dr .Keith Mitchell has urged trade unions to put Grenada first as talks are due to continue on the one-off payment to public workers in recognition of the sacrifices made during the period 2013 to 2016
“It is not that we do not want to honour workers’ requests, but we cannot,” Mitchell said.
The government negotiating team (GNT) last weekend met with officials of the Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) who are seeking at least three times more than the EC$1,000 one-off payment being offered.
The unions contend that the Mitchell administration can find creative ways in which to meet their demands and the parties have all agreed to meet again to continue the discussions “in the shortest possible time”.
Last week, Labour Minister Oliver Joseph said that not all workers will receive the EC$1,000 payment.
“If you’re working for less than a year, then you will get a lesser amount. You will get EC$500. You would not get the same amount as those who worked for more than a year. They will get a thousand,” he said.
Mitchell has said that his administration has offered salary increases of three and four per cent for the period 2017-19 amounting to EC$22.9 million to the public workers and urged all parties to work together on a solution that puts the country first.
He said the restrictions on government’s ability to entertain additional payments that are being proposed by PWU and TAWU include the conditions agreed to in the Homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), which was implemented in 2014 and endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He warned that if the government is to meet the new proposals “we will jeopardise the full benefits of the SAP including the millions in debt relief and funds that we stand to gain after the last successful review. “Therefore, if we lose the money from the SAP by agreeing to pay the unions their request, then we still will not be able to pay the money you’re asking because we won’t have it anyway,” Mitchell said, noting that in 2013, his administration honoured the existing commitment to pay a total of EC$40.5 million in salary increases for the period 2010-2012.