Civil Service Association (CSA) President Mary Isaac has said that a two-week time frame for which government wants to conclude salary-cut negotiations with unions and associations representing public sector workers may not be enough.
Speaking to media, Isaac said there are many issues that could arise within that period which may cause the negotiation process to drag on and extend way over two weeks.
The government, through a letter dated June 19, 2014 from Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, agreed to a request from the unions to initiate a Government Negotiating Team (GNT) to negotiate its proposed five percent wage cut.
Dr. Anthony’s letter stated that negotiations would include talks on “salaries and conditions of work” and “expenditure reduction and wage adjustment.”
The letter had stated, “…in an effort to compromise to find a solution to the issues at hand, the government reiterates that it is prepared to activate the GNT, appoint a chairman, commence negotiations immediately, provided that we agree to the agenda indicated above and as suggested by the unions and associations, agree to complete negotiations within two weeks after the commencement of negotiations.”
But the CSA president said while the matter is an urgent one, it needs to be done right.
“How come all of a sudden somebody is asking for the negotiations to take a two-week period? Suppose there are issues that need to be discussed past the two weeks? Right now I cannot say it is going to take two weeks, or a month or a year. Usually, government negotiations drag and drag and drag. The prime minister may be saying that now. In one week time something happens, he takes off on a flight somewhere… Suppose it’s like last year, where the lawyer has to go here and there? You never know,” she stated.
“…It is urgent that we do the right thing. Not just something but we do the right thing. We look at this from a holistic standpoint and we do what needs to be done and I do not know that it is the trade unions that have to take care of the country’s deficit. It is not.”
Isaac also addressed rumors that government may be planning to institute the five percent wage cut as soon as July month-end.
“We have also been hearing that instructions have been given to take the five percent in July’s salary. So when that is done, then the members I am sure, we will come back and we will decide what needs to be done because as far as I know, the members will not allow anyone to interfere with their salary without consultation [and ] without them agreeing to it [and] without them having been given sufficient time to reorganise their finances. So the members will get back together and decide what happens from there,” Isaac said.
The CSA held a prayer service with its membership and a general meeting to discuss the proposed wage cut at its office in Sans Souci on Monday June 23, 2014.
The association has rejected the government’s five percent salary cut.