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Unions call for wage negotiations to start

Friday, August 08, 2014    

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CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — The umbrella Trade Union Federation (TUF) says it is concerned at the apparent delay in the start of negotiations with the St Lucia Government over new salaries for public servants.

The TUF is warning that plans by the Kenny Anthony Government to deal with the escalating wage bill could hit a snag despite the implementation of new policies by the authorities.

TUF General Secretary Cyprian Montrope said the unions are ready to begin negotiations even as he cautioned there were issues that do not fall within the domain of the Government Negotiating Team (GNT).

"We have made it abundantly clear that some matters are definitely not in the purview of the Government Negotiating Team to discuss with us. We are going to the negotiations with an open mind. At the table we are going to make our decision as to what we discuss or not discuss," he said.

Two months ago, the Ministry of the Public Service issued a directive to senior public servants calling on them to submit detailed justification for filling vacancies within the public sector.

The Civil Service Association (CSA), the largest of the public sector trade unions, which is not a member of the TUF, has already said it would attend the meeting with the GNT whenever it is called.

Prime Minister Anthony, who has been seeking a five per cent reduction in salaries for public sector workers as part of his Administration's efforts to deal with an EC$76 million fiscal crisis, had requested that the negotiations also deal with expenditure, reduction and wage adjustment in addition to salaries and conditions of work.

In June, Anthony called for settlement of the negotiations in two weeks, failing which he would act in the interest of the country.

But the Government is yet to announce a starting date for the talks, and has only announced the appointment of retired banker Chester Hinkson to head the GNT.

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