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PSU issues ultimatum to government

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The Public Service Union (PSU) has threatened to take industrial action across the public sector institutions, if the government fails to pay the three per cent owing to public servants by December 2012.{{more}}

According to a release from the PSU, dated September 10, this decision was made following a meeting of the membership on September 6, to report on a meeting held with Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on July 22.

However, Cools Vanloo, President of the PSU, said that a further decision to go ahead with industrial action will be made following a proposed meeting with the prime minister in November.

“It depends on what the prime minister says in the meantime, we intend to meet and discuss what is going on,” Vanloo told SEARCHLIGHT.

It was also noted that the unions were expected to collaborate with each other to ensure that the increase was paid, but again, Vanloo responded that a decision would have to be made after the proposed November meeting.

According to the PSU’s president, the prime minister had informed those present at the July meeting that there were two main priorities: to lend Grenada a quantity of money (see separate article) and securing funding for student loans.

“We had no difficulty on the issue with students, except to say that those will be loans and it is the same public sector workers sending off their children who have to pay…those are not grants; they will have to make the interest payments while their children are at university,” the PSU president explained.

Vanloo further explained that the membership put a proposal to Gonsalves that their membership would be willing to accept 1.5 per cent, which amounts to $4 million, but that the prime minister turned that proposal down.

Other reasons for the proposed action cited include the “unilateral imposition of a salary freeze for 2012”, along with no payment on the overdue 3 per cent increase, along with “a current inflation rate of over 4 per cent means that public servants are about 7 per cent behind the cost of living,” the release said.

The PSU also identified the very low priority given to “stopping the rapid decline in the standard of living of public servants amidst high cost of living” and the failure of government to meet its obligations to public servants to pay the legislated three per cent salary increase by July 2012 as some of the reasons for possibly taking industrial action.

However, the prime minister told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that while St Vincent and the Grenadines is a free society, he believes that the public servants are very sensible.

He, however, said that under the present constraints it was unlikely that public servants would get the three per cent increase by the union’s December deadline.

“Whilst the situation is stabilizing, we are still not out of the woods yet,” Gonsalves said. (DD)

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