The government of Saint Lucia is hoping to begin wage negotiations with public service unions for the current tri-annium very soon to ensure an agreement is reached within reasonable time.
Public Service Minister Dr. James Fletcher made the disclosure during his presentation on the 2013/2014 Appropriations Bill on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in the Senate.
Dr. Fletcher said an earlier start and conclusion to the negotiation is one of the lessons to be derived from the last round of talks between the trade unions and the Government Negotiating Team.
“We don’t want to have the same situation which we had in the last negotiations where the process goes down to the wire and people are agitated and tense on both sides trying to conclude negotiations. Government believes that we should begin the new round of negotiations this year and hopefully we can conclude negotiations in a one-year period to everybody’s satisfaction so we won’t have the acrimony, bad blood and tension that we had during the last negotiations because it didn’t help the country as it was non productive.
“Quite apart from the work stoppages that took place, it gave a sense of siege and disquiet that is not good for the country and am not putting blame on the unions for this. I think it was just a consequence of the fact that these negotiations went down to the wire when it should not have,” the minister said.
Dr. Fletcher also thanked the staff of the Negotiations Division in the Ministry of the Public Service for their hard work and professionalism during the last negotiations period. He said the staff in that unit is evidence that the majority of public servants are hard working professionals.
“That is why I always defend public officers when they are being maligned. Public officers have to deal with many more problems with less resources than anybody in the private sector. Granted there are issues of accountability and others that we have to resolve, but I will put my leg on the line every single day for the hard working staff in the public sector, and I will say that they are as good or better than anybody you will find in the private sector, and it’s not to say we don’t have staff who are not as productive but they are the small minority. The vast majority of public servants work hard and without any real recognition, no employee of the year honour, and they continue to do their work and work hard, and I believe we have to commend them for the work they are doing,” the minister explained.
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