Grenada: During its General Council on Sunday (April 11th 2021), the New National Party officially stated its position on the issue of the 4% salary increase for public servants. This issue has been the motivation behind industrial action by public-sector unions over the past few months.
Chairman of the New National Party, Anthony Boatswain stated during his address at the General Council that, “With regards to the ongoing dispute between Government and the public sector unions, on the 4% wage increase. Our party stands firmly behind the Government and the position that it has taken. We believe that the workers are indeed entitled to their wage increase, as negotiated and agreed upon between the two parties.
But in the midst of a global pandemic that was never anticipated at that time, with revenues and a large section of our population still suffering the effects of this pandemic, we do believe that the timing of the payment of such increase is not correct. And as such, we ask the unions to exercise some restraint in this regard.“
Minister of Education, Human Resource Development, Religious Affairs and Information, Emmalin Pierre, in her presentation to delegates, gave insight into the many fringe benefits and additional spending that the Government of Grenada has had to embark on since the advent of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Minister Pierre stated that amongst other things Government has had to spend EC$35 Million thus far on the E-Learning programme as well as EC$50 Million on repairs and construction of schools throughout the country.
Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Oliver Joseph, who has been lead negotiator on the Governments Negotiating team, gave an insight into the negotiations from the Government’s initial request of the unions to postpone the payment considering the significant fall in revenues to the latest round of discussions on the date of payment.
Deputy Political Leader and Finance Minister, Gregory Bowen gave delegates an insight into Government revenues and the current economic reality while addressing the 4% payment issue.
He said that “In 2021 for the first quarter, we averaged EC$58.8 Million intake per month, but we are spending EC$59.9 Million. That does not paint the whole picture, because we were supposed to spend over EC$70 million to do what is necessary for the nation, but local revenues and grants were insufficient.“
Political Leader and Prime Minister, Dr Keith C. Mitchell chimed in on the issue. Speaking on the action of the trade union leadership of what he considers irresponsible behaviour as regards the carnival-like protest marches:
“If you go out there and you march, you demonstrate and you cluster together and you cause your own brother or sister to catch the virus and they die or get sick. Is 4% worth it?”
The Government of Grenada and the public sector unions continue negotiations regarding the 4% issue.