While some have argued that a two-week time frame may not be enough for the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) and public sector unions to complete negotiations on the proposed five percent salary cut for government workers, the St. Lucia Nurses Association believes this is totally achievable.
In late June, Civil Service Association (CSA) President Mary Isaac criticised the government for suggesting that negotiations be concluded in two weeks. She opined that the time frame may not be sufficient as many issues could arise within that period to cause the process to drag on and extend way over that time.
But speaking to St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an interview on Friday (July 18) First Vice President of the association Ray Leo said that it was actually the unions who had made the two-week request.
“Actually, it was the unions who made that suggestion to the government … because the prime minister was saying [that] in the current scheme of things and the way the economy is, whatever needs to be done needs should be done quickly so that the economy doesn’t deteriorate further,” he told SNO.
Leo indicated that he does not envision that any delays will be caused by the unions. Further, he said that in most instances, extensions in negotiation periods are usually caused by government.
“It has always been the government that delays the process because their machinery doesn’t work well…,” he said.
“The onus is on the government and unions to make things happen in the stipulated time,” he said.
The first vice president made it clear that his members have stuck to their decision not to accept a salary cut.
“Unless our members tell us otherwise our position remains the same,” he said.
The nurses association has put together its negotiating team and said it is ready to meet with government.
“So as soon as the government announces a date to commence the negotiations we can meet,” Leo said.
He said that while the government has announced a chairman for the GNT there has been no word as to the other members of that team or when negotiations can begin.
“We hope that it will be soon. We can only speculate that it is the carnival season and that they want the holidays to pass … we think that two weeks is sufficient time for us to negotiate and come to consensus,” he reiterated.