Public servants, who have been waiting for a decade for a pay increase, could be in for some good news by Christmas.
President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall Wednesday revealed that after several months of stalled wage negotiations, the Ministry of the Civil Service has expressed a willingness to resume those discussions on December 13.
The development comes on the heels of a letter dispatched by the NUPW to the ministry back in October in which the union stated in no uncertain terms that it would not be returning to the bargaining table if Government were not prepared to budge from its position of a zero per cent pay increase.
“We believe that ministry will put something on the table for us to have meaningful negotiation. We have had some false starts before, but I believe that the ministry this time will be willing to put something on the table,” the union boss told Barbados TODAY this morning, while insisting that the NUPW’s demand for a 23 per cent increase or an interim coping subsidy had not changed.
“I don’t believe that the Ministry is going to call us and have nothing to offer because the union’s position was very clear the last time that we are not going engage in meaningless negotiations, so it is my interpretation that they would have something that they will be willing to offer,” he said.
“We can’t continue to have discussions for discussion sake,” McDowall emphasized, noting that the Barbadian public servants had gone ten years without a salary increase, earning them the unenviable record of the longest to do so in the region.
With the Barbados Workers’ Union also demanding a double digit pay hike for its members, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had suggested back in August that depending on the performance of the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), Government would be willing to look seriously at the wage proposals.
However, following a report issued by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler at the end of September that the NSRL had raked in $50 million in the first three months since it was increased from two to ten per cent, officials in his ministry have since indicated in the draft Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRP) 2017, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY ahead of its tabling in Parliament this month, that the burdensome tax was now likely to perform weaker than earlier expected.
Nonetheless, the NUPW is not backing down from its demands and has called on Stuart to honour his commitment to the workers.
“I know the Government has refused to give public servants a salary increase even though the unions have shown time and time again that they can afford it. I think any right thinking Barbadian would know that the unions have been constantly fighting for salary increases so any credit for salary increases would have to go to the trade union movement,” he said, with elections around the corner and the likelihood that an attractive pay promise may be made by the Stuart administration in an attempt to sway voters.