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Sunday, January 13, 2013


CASTRIES, St Lucia, Friday January 11, 2013 - President of the Trade Union Federation (TUF) Julian Monrose has accused Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of attacking Civil Servants by accusing them of being greedy, unproductive and unpatriotic.

The TUF President was responding to this weeks’ address to the nation in which Prime Minister Anthony outlined the islands fiscal situation in response to public servants demands for an 16% salary increase.

Monrose told a news conference Thursday that his organisation is disappointed with the address stating that the Prime Minister should not have approached the matter in the manner he did in comparing the wages of public servants here to those in other Caribbean territories.

“The Prime Minister gave the distinct impression that public sector workers are greedy, unproductive and unpatriotic and that is not so at all. We are disappointed that the Prime Minister as the ultimate head of the public service will address the public and seek to in our view put the public against public servants,” he noted.

Monrose, whose TUF leadership has been criticized as too easy going with the Kenny Anthony administration as opposed to the past administration said that under the former government there were many days of negotiations before the unions moved to take strike action.

He said he new government is being accorded the same courtesy and if it continues to play hard ball the TUF will meet with its members and take the necessary next step.

“Some people have called us all kinds of names, some have suggested that we have sold out, others say we are soft on this administration. But that is not so, there are protocols there are processes, there are procedures to be followed and we are following them.

“If we get to the stage where we have exhausted all the processes and there appears to be no solution we will meet with our members are take it from there,” he added.

The Trade Union President said his members are frustrated with the process. Their talks with the Prime Minister earlier this week agreed that there be two separate negotiation teams, one to handle salaries and the other fringe benefits.

The meeting also set a time frame of month end for the negotiations to be completed.

Meanwhile the Police Welfare Association which is not grouped under the TUF has also complained that its members were becoming impatient and were “very displeased” with the progress of wage negotiations with the government. 

President Martin James hopes that members will be given a much needed salary increase, adding that high risk benefits for Police officers represents some of other benefits that must be considered.

“We are dealing with potential benefits that we would have been receiving three years ago now we are being asked to forego them, in my opinion that is really an unfair request,” he said.

In a nationwide radio and television broadcast Prime Minister Anthony, who is also the Finance Minister, said the crux of the issue that faces the government is the ability to meet the demands of its 9,500 workers for increases in their wages by 15 per cent, spread over three years.

Public sector trade unions have rejected an offer of zero per cent increase and a onetime payment of EC$1,000 (One EC dollar= US$0.37 cents) and have called on the intervention of the Prime Minister to reach an amicable solution.

Prime Minister Anthony said the current proposal by the trade unions would increase the government wage bill by an estimated EC$55 million annually while the back pay associated with this proposal would cost about EC$40 million, “leading to a worsening of the current deficit of close to EC$100 million for this financial year.

“It also means that for every ensuing year, Government would have to borrow an extra EC$55 million just to meet the increase. This is clearly a path that a responsible government should not take.

Anthony said wages in St. Lucia “have been growing at a rapid pace while productivity has been declining.

“To put it more plainly, some persons are being paid more for producing less. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) output has grown by an average of less than one percent over the last three years, and it is projected to remain subdued in the short term.

“If we base wage increases only on inflation and not productivity or our ability to pay, we are actually making our country poorer and making the goods and services we produce less attractive to the outside world. I know that this is an “inconvenient truth” but we must summon courage to face our reality,” he added. (CMC)

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