After the glamour of what is a largely symbolic Labour code the workers of Saint Lucia are now left to ponder over the recommencement and completion of salary negotiations for the 2010/2011 to 2012/2013 triennium.
The direction/outcome of these negotiations are no doubt critical for civil servants given the determination of Government to implement the Value Added Tax (VAT) as of October 1st, 2012 and its impact of the spiralling cost of living. Public sector workers can refer to the fact that under the previous UWP Government, they were granted salary increases of 14.5% for the last triennium.
The concerns of Government workers may stem from indications that the Government of Saint Lucia does not intend to grant employees deserved salary increases for the 2010/2011 to 2012/2013 triennium. The UWP understands that during a presentation to public sector unions and the Government Negotiating Team held on July 19th, 2012, the Unions were informed that workers were “over compensated” during the last triennium under the UWP Administration.
Due to that perception on the part of the current Administration, union leaders were informed that “there is no space in the budget” for “increases for those with jobs” and creating new jobs. As such workers are being offered the option of zero (0), zero (0), three (3) percent for the triennium under negotiations by a Government which promised “better days”.
These proposals are contained in a document titled: Update on Macro-economic Framework for Negotiations with Unions prepared by the Ministry of Finance. The UWP is of the view that this proposal by the Government is grossly inadequate and unrealistic given the skyrocketing prices of commodities and fuel and the impending imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT).
Whilst the SLP Government is expecting workers to make sacrifices it continues to place a strain on the public purse by the burden of a fourteen (14) member cabinet, and appointment of the following:
* A political attaché at the Ministry of National Reconstruction;
*Appointment of a Coordinator for combating the Black Sigatoka disease in the Ministry of Agriculture when there are competent personnel within the Ministry to manage the disease;
* Appointment of the son of a known SLP stalwart as political attaché to the Prime Minister;
* Appointment of the son of a known SLP stalwart as special legal advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs;
* The intended appointment of a number of Permanent Secretaries on Contract instead of promoting career civil servants.
* These are a few examples of the excesses of the SLP Government at a cost to the tax payers and the workers of this country.
The United Workers Party calls on public sector workers to question the leadership of their unions and to demand what is justifiably due to them. This is the only way break free from the choke hold of Kenny Anthony and his Government, which if they are not vigilant may very well extend through the duration of the current Administration