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Trade unions explore ways government can prevent possible salary cuts

Samuel Sukhnandan, SNO Reporter

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Monrose.

Amid speculation that government could move to retrench a large number of public servants or cut salaries across the board by five percent, Trade Unionist and President of the Saint Lucia Teachers’ Union (SLTU) Julian Monrose said that retrenchment is no longer an option for government, but a possible salary cut of five percent is still possible.

However, Monrose told Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) during an exclusive interview today, Tuesday, May, 6 that trade unionists are prepared to defend the cause of workers, to ensure that this is not the only possible avenue to correct the economic crisis being experienced.

The SLTU president told SNO that a recent meeting with government and trade unions was basically to inform trade union leaders about the state of the economy and government finances.

SNO understands that majority of the meeting saw a presentation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, in which officials showed the comparative figures over the years reflecting the economy’s performance, government’s spending and problems the government now faces with raising monies for loans.

“We asked a lot of questions to clarify some of the economic issues,” Monrose said.

He clarified that the meeting was not a decision-making one, rather it was more of information sharing. The SLTU, among all the other trade unions were in attendance, with the exception of the Civil Service Association (CSA).

Asked whether he believes that from the presentation, government has no other alternative but to move towards cutting salaries, Monrose said: “What we know for sure is that the government is looking to fill a gap of $76 million. They are saying that one of the scenarios could be a five per cent and they have indicated that they are in deficit of $205 million.”

Monrose, however, maintains that trade unions and government need to sit and discuss the country’s spending and to look at areas that government can tighten its belt. He believes that there other things government can do to realise the level of efficiency that is needed to improve the economic situation of the island. Further, Monrose said as trade unionists they are sensitive to the plight of the people and if they are to accept a five percent cut, then someone would need to explain to the people how they are to go about their daily lives, with a cut. He said while some may survive it, others may not.

The SLTU head said, “We cannot resolve government’s problems by creating problems for individuals. So what we need to do is see how we can look at all possible solutions or means by which we can help government …We have to sit with government and look at their operations…and we have done it before and we need to sit with them and say, but look is it absolutely necessary to be spending here and there and why don’t you take some from here and there and pay workers … before a decision is made.”

Monrose told SNO that the union will protect the best interest of its members. He said while the SLTU understands that there will be external factors that may impact its ability to do so, the union is also cognisant of the fact that teachers are fighting hard to survive and try very hard to make ends meet.

“And we are going to make every effort to ensure that we work with government to protect teachers’ salaries and their jobs,” Monrose added.

Further, the SLTU president said if it comes to a point where trade unions believe that there is a measure of sacrifice that members can make, then his union is going to honest with members and suggest to them what are the options.

“At the end of the day it is going to be them who will make the decision because we have a very democratic organisation. Whatever decision the general membership makes, I assure you the president and executive will uphold that decision,” he asserted.

“I am sure the government is a little nervous and they may want this matter resolved in a month or so … I think that has been expressed, and we understand that, but we must not rush it. We must ensure that whatever is done to assist government must not hurt people, and also we don’t take a measure to hurt the economy further, which will cause government to come back to us to do further sacrifices,” he explained.

The next meeting between trade unions and government is scheduled to take place on Friday.

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18 comments

  1. As a civil servant myself I am in total disagreement with this salary cut issue. I have worked for government for over 18yrs and looking forward to my retirement, if they go through with this salary cut one realize that that is will affect the lives and families of those who have worked so hard and so long for a little pension which will definitely be affected by this cut. People have their bills, their children and families to take care of and instead of helping the situation government is trying to make things worst. I can barely make ends meet as it is , far less when you remove 5% from my salary.Then I'll have to start thinking which of these bill I won't pay this month or which school book I wont buy for my children. As one person put in a comment if we were speaking about a salary freeze I would agree to this but taking food from the mouth of a family is just wrong. The ministers and even some unionist don't care about our plight because they can afford to loose that 5% on their large salaries.

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  2. That is the problem in St. Lucia. A set of you without backbone. Cowards who hid behind names like "Chin Chong" "Jin" "Shaking my head","Jadia" "LUcian" "Anonymous" "Independent""John 3:16" "Vengeance for God" "Economist" - all yellow bellies. Come out and form an alliance to help St.Lucia. Bloody cowards. Come out of the dark (hiding behind behind stupids names. BOOOOOOOOOOO

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  3. Toot tOO BOoshE'

    Government rental of properties and office space is where the cutting needs to begin...Has someone ever tried to calculate how much the government spends on rentals of properties? The entire issue of cutting wages and trimming the public service is not one to be done on the spur of the moment...it should be done methodically and over a period of time. The country can most definitely function efficiently with 1/2 of its public service workforce, but this cannot be the answer at this point. Another issue is that this whole salary cutting mess begun with that 14% increase instigated by these very same unions and aided by the current administration...see what u get when u cheat?

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  4. If i had to say anything it would definitely mirror the exact sentiments expressed here. Therefore, i chose to observe our depressive economic situation on the sidelines. Oh boy... just tired of all this crap. Just got a US visa,i will go to the US and Babysit if i have too. Can no longer take on all this crap. One less qualified teacher on the island!! BRAIN DRAIN!!! Kenny has screwed this economy so much. I wish he would throw in the towel and give up. His interest is clearly not geared towards progressive thoughts for our little country.

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  5. You see a lot of (nonsense) is happening in this country.Where are the better days that they promised?.St.Lucians just never seem to learn. We are so hypocritical and gullible!Remember we wanted to crucify King when he said he would pay the 14% in trenches---14%when there was no VAT,14% kenny would never have given yet he too was in the forefront to crucify King..Now he wants to take back the 4% and an extra 1% that he never gave.Now isn't that a worst position? Why are the Unions especially Monrose and his executive behaving like sleeping dogs? never in St.Lucian history have I heard salary cuts by government. if you say wage freeze then I can say that is the way to go, They say they have no money yet they use tax payers money to give laptops to students whose parents can provide them with.They say they have no money yet still they are giving parents who can afford $500 each when students are entering secondary school rather than giving it as a motivation for those who achieve at least a 50% past mark or even for those who are needy.More concern for keeping campaign promises than for putting tax payers' money into proper use.
    Now it is a situation of the carrot or the stick which we know kenny is too good at.
    The only person with the real "balls" here is Mary Isaac.

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  6. Tell Kenny, PIP and the rest to ask Frenwell and Rochamel to make a donation from the $110 million they got for free from St.Lucia. Yes, St. Lucia really needs its $110,000,000.00 right now.

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  7. I AGREE with you jin what the f....ck are we doing with 3 consulates in the us and 1 in Canada !!!

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  8. So much waste everywhere. The politicians should cut themselves first, along with foreign embassies, air travel and government contracts (guy Joseph/ jn Pierre).

    There's a lot of dead wood in the STEP program. You need to redirect the money saved for infrastructure projects such as toll roads which will be self financing.

    Some argue that the economy won't improve if you cut salaries - this is incorrect because its private sector TAXES and BORROWING that pay the way for the public wages. Unless you make a return on the money borrowed including financing, then it's not much good. You cannot sustainably borrow money to pay salaries, it's self defeating.

    The government should cut its cloth.

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  9. They need to let go of half at least 30% of the public workforce. Most times most of those people sit there going nothing for the entire day. They come to work at 9, go to lunch at 11:30, come from lunch at 2, then go pick up their kid at 2:30 to come back at 3 to leave at 4:30. One day I went to ministry of commerce. Sat waiting for 90 minute. In this 90 minutes I saw a worker stand at a woman's desk for the entire time doign nothing but gossiping. And I as a tax payer have to pay for that crap. Fire Dem!!. If I do that on my job I get fired. Enough is enough. This is waste plain and simple and I support downsizing as opposed to paycuts.

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  10. No one finds it strange that the Ministry of Finance is engaging the unions in an economic forum. In their capacity as Trade Unionist are they really expected to make sound economic analysis? Is the Ministry of Finance asking the Trade Unions for economic advice or prepping them for news about the decisions that have already been made?

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    • That is the glaring point no one is addressing. Moreover, it was these same Trade Unions who demanded and protested for increase twice over the past five/six years when the WORLD was reeling from economic problems. If they didn't have the understanding and foresight then to understand economics and the relationship between labour (not the party) and capital then surely they are not suited to advise on such now.

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  11. Why doesn’t the politicians take a five percent pay cut from their own salary? They should lead by example.

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  12. Why doesn't the politicians take a percent pay cut from their own salary? They should lead by example.

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  13. Monrose you self is a waste shame on these teachers to have you as their president.'BETTER DAYS.'

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    • Shaking my head

      Jadia Monrose will agree with whatever this government say because they him in the they back pocket the sell out and for teachers to keep voting the idiot as they president says a lot. Better days are really here for Monrose but not for us common people in this country.

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  14. How about getting rid of the consulate in New York? They are spending a ton of money for the upkeep of a consulate and salaries and that place is useless. What exactly is the purpose for a tiny island to have 3 consulates in the US plus 1 in Canada?

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