Talks between the Civil Service Association and the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) could extend beyond this year for various reasons.
This is the view expressed by President of the CSA Mary Isaac.
Isaac told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today that there is still much more work to be done on both sides, before a concrete decision is made with regards to salaries and benefits.
“If anything we have to meet with the members before going into any decision. That is not going to conclude by the end of this year,” Isaac told SNO.
The CSA president said that both parties have not even agreed on fringe benefits as yet. Only after this is completed, will discussions regarding salaries commence, she said.
Isaac claims that the GNT has already declared that anything with financial implications will not be granted, but she is determined to get proper benefits for all civil servants.
Meanwhile, when asked what led the CSA executive team to miss today’s meeting with the GNT, Isaac told SNO that she had prior engagements.
Besides that Isaac added that the CSA has not received any minutes from the last meeting, which has become a new trend. The CSA will not be attending meetings without first perusing those minutes, she explained.
Isaac said she finds it strange that the GNT would issue a press statement regarding the CSA’s absence at today’s meeting, when in fact the GNT has cancelled meetings before with the CSA.
Questioned as to whether the association will accept a wage freeze, Isaac said, “Since our collective agreement for the last triennial was zero, that means we would be agreeing to a second wage freeze.”
She reminded that during the last triennial, the CSA had opted for a wage freeze.
“Nobody was singing hallelujah; they were actually looking at CSA, as if the CSA was a trouble maker by proposing a wage freeze,” she added.
Isaac further stated, “There is pretense in this whole negotiation process…this time around they are promoting the same thing that CSA had proposed last year.”
According to her, the CSA is now hearing that the economy is picking up and that government is proposing to increase the wage bill.
Isaac said she was told that the government is looking to increase the salaries of parliamentarians, government ministers and other top government officials.
She explained that the increase will happen in the sub-division of the constituencies by 21 as opposed to 17. “You are looking at a huge increase at that same wage bill you are talking about.”
“We really have to analyze the situation to see whether our current fiscal space has given us a little latitude, to maybe consider a wage increase for the people who carry out government’s policies,” she added.
“It’s not just a matter of saying the workers make the sacrifice and government isn’t making any sacrifice and we have to take those issues to the members as well, so that they can have a say in this.”