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Back pay of 1.5% for public servants in December

Back pay of 1.5% for public servants in December

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is proposing to pay public servants in December, half the 3 per cent salary increase owed to them since January 2011. {{more}}

If trade unions representing public servants accept the offer, the Treasury will pay out $6 million, half the amount owed.

Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, told the nation that his government couldn’t afford the full $12 million.

He announced the proposal in a pre-recorded radio and television address broadcast Friday night, the eve of the nation’s 33rd anniversary of Independence.

The prime minister is overseas on State business, and will miss Independence celebrations here for the first time since coming to office in 2001.

“My government has to keep its solemn promise to pay them (public servants) the 3 per cent salary increase due since 2011,” he said.

“All of us are required to make the requisite sacrifice to meet the public servants at least part of the way. I rely, too, on the public servants continuing reasonableness and extraordinary love of country,” he further said before proposing the “resolution — at least partially”.

Gonsalves said public servants, “as a whole”, have “done very well under” his Unity Labour Party government “through salary increases, bonuses, salary enhancements through the reclassification exercise, improved conditions of work, additional perks, including phenomenal training and educational opportunities free of cost or at heavily subsidised rates”.

He, however, said senior clerks and some other particular posts did not benefit from the reclassification exercise.

“By far, the bulk of the public servants benefited from reclassification…” he said.

The Prime Minister, however, added that he was “mindful though that there is a minority of public servants who did not benefit from the reclassification.

“Indeed, principally because of the inbuilt incremental system of increases for public servants, the salary bill so far this year for the central government has increased by 2.7 per cent despite the non-payment of the 3 per cent salary increase,” he said.

So far this year, expenditure on pensions has increased by about 5 per cent,” he further said.

“For every 1 per cent increase in the salary bill for public servants, there is an additional $2 million a year required. So, a 3 per cent increase in 2011 would amount to six million [dollars] and at least another 6 million [dollars] for 2012.

“Thus, if my Government has to pay the entire 3 per cent now, backdated to January 2011, the sum of $12 million will be required. That additional sum is simply not available,” Gonsalves said.

“But, I am determined to meet the public servants halfway by Christmas 2012,” he said, as he proposed the 1.5 per cent salary increase, backdated from January 2011 to December 2012.

“This 1.5 per cent salary increase would have to be paid as a matter of course on the salary bill for 2013 and continuing. I intend to hold further discussions with the public sector trade unions about the status of the other 1.5 per cent of the pledged salary increase,” Gonsalves said.

He said the “immediate payment of a further $6 million constrains, restrains my government in the pursuance of some other items of expenditure.

“There is one pot of money and sacrifices are required all around. But it would be unreasonable to expect the poor and disadvantaged to sacrifice for those who are in much better circumstances than themselves. As always, I shall do my best. You know the mettle of the captain, not when the seas are calm and smooth but when they are rough and dangerous,” Gonsalves said. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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