Monday, January 22, 2018

St Lucia union knocks delay in salary talks


Civil Service Association (CSA) president Mary Isaac has joined a call of other public service unions for activation of the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) to commence negotiations for the three-year agreement, although this stage has already begun.

“We are into our second year of this triennium, so if the government wants to negotiate anything with us, including the reduction of salaries and so on, it should activate the negotiating team to start talks going into next year’s budget,” Isaac told a television audience on Wednesday.

The CSA president observed that both the East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have expressed concern about the delay in negotiations.

“You should negotiate for a period prior to the beginning of that period, but what you find is that sometimes the period ends and we are just starting talks for a past time frame, which is counter-productive,” Isaac said.

She said that whatever is considered in the negotiations regarding the government’s fiscal position will reflect what the government would present in next year’s budget.

“In terms of the fiscal situation in this current budget we are saying that the fiscal package has already been passed, so if the government has a shortfall it would have to return to parliament for a supplementary to take care of that,” Isaac said.

The CSA has boycotted a series of meetings between the government and public service unions on reducing the fiscal deficit, accusing the administration of hypocrisy by including a five per cent wage cut in the estimates of expenditure prior to summoning the unions to discuss the matter.

The island’s unions, with the exception of the Police Welfare Association, the Fire Service Association and the CSA, last met Prime Minister Kenny Anthony last Friday after which Anthony said they had reached an impasse.

According to Anthony, the unions did not want to include on the agenda of the GNT, the issue of a reduction in government expenditure and adjustments in wages.

He said, in a sense, the government was not opposed to activating a GNT, but wanted to discuss the issue of reducing expenditure and making adjustments in wages.

“It (GNT) does not address the fundamental problem we have now of runaway expenditure on wages and salaries,” the Prime Minister disclosed. —CMC