Our allegiance has to be to ourselves and our unions – Boucher
The meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office where decisions on increase in salaries for public sector workers was an attack on the public sector unions and the Police Welfare Association.
This is the view of Elroy Boucher, president of the Public Service Union (PSU).
At a recent meeting, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves came to an agreement with representatives of the Commercial Technical and Allied Workers’ Union (CTAWU) and the National Workers Movement (NWM) that public servants would receive a one per cent increase retroactive from July 1, 2018, 1.5 per cent from January 2019, and two per cent for 2020 on their salaries.
Representatives from the Public Service Union (PSU), the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) and the Police Welfare Association (PWA) chose not to attend that meeting after being told that they had to surrender their cellular phones before going into the meeting.
“Do not for a moment think that that mockery of events that took place on Friday (January 12, 2019), the signing of some sort of agreement; do not for one moment think that that makes any sense. It is a mockery. One per cent is an insult to workers. There are workers who are getting $11, $14, some $16 after a hard year in a salary freeze with a rate of inflation of 3 per cent, coming out of VAT on a number of items, coming out of increased VAT percentage, that is what this so-called labour government give to workers,” Boucher said at a press conference recently.
“What happened at that meeting was targeted against public sector unions and the Police Welfare Association. It is part of the targeting and attack on the trade union movement, the bonafide trade union movement standing up for workers in this country and the attempt is to divide the membership and divide the executive.”
The president called on workers to unite regardless of their political affiliation and work along with their unions to effect change.
He also said that unions have to stand their ground and the members should stand with them, lest the government “impose anything on us” with respect to pension reform.
“People need to read between the lines and understand what is happening. Time for workers to stand up for themselves. Stand with your unions. Do not give way to the political parties. They come and they go. Who remain are the workers,” he said. Our allegiance has to be to ourselves and to our unions. Once we carry out our functions dutifully and we serve the public well, that is our mission.
Not an allegiance to a political party that is bent on dividing us so that they can remain in power indefinitely.”
Wendy Bynoe, president of the SVGTU and Station Sergeant Brenton Smith, chairman of the PWA both expressed their displeasure at the outcome of the January 12 meeting.
The leaders told SEARCHLIGHT that no other unions have the authority to negotiate on their behalf and they intend to look to their membership for help in determining the way forward.
Executive members of the PSU and the SVGTU picketed Parliament during the presentation of the Estimates last Tuesday and the Budget, yesterday.