Arthur dismisses BLP pay concerns

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur said there was a big difference between the 15 to 23 per cent pay hikes that trade unions here have been demanding, and the recent restoration of the ten per cent that was cut from the salaries of parliamentarians and other senior Government officials.

Arthur has rejected out of hand, recent attempts by the Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to link the two issues, saying it was nothing more than “public relations grandstanding” on the part of the main Opposition.

Late last month the BLP walked out of Parliament after Government tabled a resolution to restore the amount given up by the politicians back in 2014 at the height of austerity, insisting they would not accept any restoration until public servants, who have been waiting for over six years for an increase, were granted a pay rise.

In tabling the resolution, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler was careful to point out it was not a salary increase, but a case of Government honouring its promise to restore the ten per cent, which was initially due to be repaid at the end of 19 months.

At the time Sinckler had also said the pay cut, which was originally due to end by March 31, 2015, had been extended for an additional year.

In breaking his silence on the matter, Arthur was critical of the stance taken by the party and the MPs he once led.

The independent Member of Parliament for St Peter, who quit the BLP back in 2014, argued that it was one thing for trade unions to demand a pay hike at the height of financial difficulty and quite another to give back to politicians that which they agreed to give up during a period of austerity.

“The cut in the politicians salary by ten per cent was intended as a means of showing that politicians would, for a temporary period, be prepared to carry the sacrifice that goes beyond that which was asked of the rest of the society. The politicians were not carved out and treated separately. And it was always intended to be a 19 month period, it went past the 19 months and all that is happening is, they are not getting an increase, it is that the period of sacrifice has come to an end and you are restoring it,” he told Barbados TODAY.

Arthur also argued that had the politicians been protected from the austerity measures which the rest of the society was subjected to, the restoration would have been wrong.

However, he pointed out, on top of the ten per cent pay cut, they were faced with the same taxes and other harsh provisions that characterized the Freundel Stuart administration’s homegrown fiscal adjustment programme.

The former prime minister was also adamant that people’s wages should not be tinkered with since it could frustrate their ability to honour their commitments. In fact, he said this was one of the main reasons he had deemed it necessary to restore the eight per cent that was taken from the salaries of public servants back in early 1990s.

“When I became the Prime Minister I was so conscious that there were so many people in Barbados whose personal circumstances had been catspraddled by an eight per cent cut that I said as soon as we can restore we should, because people cannot honour their obligations, especially their mortgages.

“And even though we were not the people to implement the eight per cent pay cut, I felt that it was necessary to restore that trust of bond between the Government and the governed, and that it be restored as fast as possible, so that people could get on with sustainable livelihoods,” he said, while accusing the BLP of “public relations grandstanding” over a mere “gesture” on the part of politicians that was never intended to solve the country’s financial problems.

While refusing to go into details on his current pay pack, the former three-term prime minister, who is entitled to a pension that is two-thirds of that salary, stressed that even for politicians, “a ten per cent cut in salary on top of the other adjustments that you have to make is very, very tough, especially since people enter contracts based upon their perception of their income and that is what you are disrupting”.

Asked if he did not feel the timing was bad given the country’s ongoing economic challenges, Arthur said: “If it had not been said upfront that it would be for a temporary period, then the timing would be bad; but it was made clear from the very outset that this was temporary.”

As for the current demands by the National Union of Public Workers and its sister union, the Barbados Workers Union, for an across-the-board pay hike for public servants, the former minister of finance suggested that it would be unwise for Government to give in to those demands at this time.

“The people who are proposing those wage increases would have to show that they know where the increased revenue is going to come from to make sure that those wage increases don’t worsen an already precarious fiscal position,” he said.

“I am prepared to yield to better informed and wiser heads [but] to call for a 20 per cent wage increase when you already have a massive fiscal deficit is to tell me that a 20 per cent increase is not going to make the fiscal situation any worse. And if they have that information they should present it to the public,” he added. 

40 Responses to Arthur dismisses BLP pay concerns

  1. John T February 10, 2017 at 3:35 am

    And what about the 2.5% increase in VAT by the DLP to 17.5% being a temporary imposition for 18 months? Why was it never restored to 15% by the Dems? Tell us Uncle Owen. Is that wrong?

    Reply
  2. Boyce Jr Angus
    Boyce Jr Angus February 10, 2017 at 3:49 am

    Come on Owen ….a period of sacrifice come to an end?with….vat hike was supposed ta be temporary too but its still here so much so that its become normal……some ppl had their salary cut by 100%cause they got sent home & u telling me political hounds like wunna so can’t live without 10% of $14,000 when de month come?stupess…..& as if that’s not enough ya gine turn round & say that public service salary’s are causing hardships on government…. Smh………your animosity against Mia is getting in your way……you are one of the best economic brains in the Caribbean so stop making hints about Mia & start back being unbiased please

    Reply
  3. Sunshine Sunny Shine February 10, 2017 at 4:07 am

    You are a real joker. Just because you hate Mottley, you would do anything to discredit her. You think it is right that at this point in time, especially so close to elections, which is the motive for wanting back the 10%, that they should get it while asking all civil servants to continue to hold strain. Then again what to expect from you. You were immoral and unethical then and no need to think that you are different now. A real disgruntled spent hen.

    Reply
    • miche February 10, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      So because you stand up for what you believe,you automatically hate the other person?????? Now if that is so,,,then Sunshine sunny shine ,,,you are hated by 90% of all who read your post

      Reply
  4. Santini More
    Santini More February 10, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Time to retire and go tend your garden Owen.

    Reply
  5. Iteebah Cadogan
    Iteebah Cadogan February 10, 2017 at 5:47 am

    He really sickening me now I cah c he ain plan to dun wan b surprised if he team up with Lynette eastmond

    Reply
  6. Dennis Taitt
    Dennis Taitt February 10, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Opposition full of games and will trick all of the foolish people of this island if they are elected to lead this island. Just a matter of time.

    Reply
    • miche February 10, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      They learnt nothing from Trump supporters

      Reply
  7. hcalndre February 10, 2017 at 5:58 am

    I want to know how is it that these set of politicians would find it so difficult to survive if they do not get the 10% back when poor workers had a 100% taken from them, never to return. Politicians that never had anything until now, with the exception of a couple, speaking of living below their accustom life style,”give me a break.” Then after they leave or get put out of government they automatically become millionaires. I want some one to do the maths and show me how when the majority of people worked for 50 years and more and can`t even repair their home. Owen take an exit.

    Reply
  8. Hal Austin February 10, 2017 at 6:01 am

    hcaidre

    Prime ministers get 100 per cent of their salaries as pension. I am not sure when they can claim on their pensions, but as it is Barbados I won’t be surprised if they could claim a pension and still remain an MP on an MP’s salary. This is worth investigating.

    Reply
  9. Tracy Brown
    Tracy Brown February 10, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Mr Author please Sir go take several seats

    Reply
  10. Ejd February 10, 2017 at 6:43 am

    The higher the monkey climbs………

    Reply
    • miche February 10, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Why are you hitting at Hal Austin,, Monkeys must chatter,Thats all they can do

      Reply
  11. E Jerome Davis
    E Jerome Davis February 10, 2017 at 6:43 am

    The higher the monkey climbs….

    Reply
  12. Wayne T Griffith
    Wayne T Griffith February 10, 2017 at 6:55 am

    It is fascinating that whenever Mr Arthur speaks his mind on issues the commentators vilify his words. However, they digest all the lies and falsehoods other politicians have dished out.

    Reply
    • Philip F. Corbin
      Philip F. Corbin February 10, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Of course Arthur’s statement is reasonable to you. Reinstate MPs salaries but cut workers at the Post Office ! We all know where his interest lies !

      Reply
  13. Greengiant February 10, 2017 at 7:16 am

    I’m sure if he was still leading the BLP you all would not be saying what you are saying. Why should public servants get a 15 to 20 percent increase when less than 15 to 20 percent of them are giving good service to the people of this country?

    Are you all too blind to see that our public service is too heavy a burden for us to carry. We should only be carrying half that weight but I guess most of you still want your children or yourself to get a government job. Government can no longer be the largest employer and the BLP will place several of the national cash making statutory departments in the hands of their friends.

    They talk about housing when the BLP made a mess at Coverley with their DelSol partnership and at Bulkeley Meadows with their South Park relationship. UDC and RDC were the only agencies that built houses for the really poor people and that was scandalous with many non builders getting contracts. That’s the previous record of the opposition and it will be worse under their current leader. The DLP situation is current so no need for a reminder that’s why we need a new party or a wide selection of elected members minus the lawyers who are simply impeding progress.

    Reply
    • hcalndre February 10, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      @Greengiant, you said that the public service is too heavy a burden for the government to carry, did you ever given the thought that barbados with less that 300,000 in population has too many ministers and ministries? How many public servants can be paid if they reduce the ministers and their secretaries etc. by 50%? London is divided into 14 constituencies with more than 5 million electorates so who is burdening who.

      Reply
    • Coralita February 10, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      Don’f faget Hardwood, anybody find the hardwood houses yet?

      Reply
    • Coralita February 10, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Don’f faget Hardwood, anybody find the hardwood houses yet?

      Reply
  14. Philip F. Corbin
    Philip F. Corbin February 10, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Owen Arthur never ceases to amaze. On the one hand he is prodding the govt to cut costs by retrenching workers at the post office, on the other he supports reinstating the 10% for already well paid MPs. We know where his interest lies.

    Reply
  15. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock February 10, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Sir you’re not being fair to the people of Barbados nor yourself,the government also promised the people that it would applied the 2.5 vat tax for 19 months also ,from your proclamations hence they should reduce the vat!I am holding ,both you and the government to your bonds.

    Reply
  16. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock February 10, 2017 at 7:42 am

    The country is not about Mia,the government or you sir let’s get this straight we’re going to be constructive rather than distructive!

    Reply
  17. Kenrick Purcell
    Kenrick Purcell February 10, 2017 at 7:54 am

    They all cut from the same cloth….The Westminster System is a very protectionist one to a select few.

    Reply
  18. Dwayne Durant
    Dwayne Durant February 10, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Is he looking for points or something? We are being told Goverment need to cut it spending so I will ask this stupid question putting back the salaries to what is was before it was cut at this time will help lower government spending right now?

    Reply
  19. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn February 10, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I don’t see your point Mr Arthur. Now is not the right time to take back your 10%. You telling civil servants to hold strain. Things tight; recession all over the world , but you taking back your 10% I respect you Mr Arthur. As the third best leather behind Mr Barrow and Mr Tom Adams. Why you don’t want miss MOTTLEY to be the next prime minister of Barbados. A person was good all the time, but all of a sudden they ain’t no good. You is the one that cause the BLP to last the last election. You don’t abandoned something and then want it back. You should put all differences a side and support the BLP that makes you famous. Mr Henry did not fight against you. I cannot see why you can be a real man. You already made a contribution already . You should be trying to be the next GOVERNOR GENERAL of Barbados. Don’t bite the hand that feed you.Try and support miss MOTTLEY if you love your country.

    Reply
    • sunshinecanada February 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      well said Benn, CAN NOT STOP MISS MOTTLEY

      Reply
      • Carson C Cadogan February 24, 2017 at 7:15 pm

        Really?

        Just wait until Pandora’s box is open.

        Reply
  20. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn February 10, 2017 at 9:31 am

    You would not like to see you kids and grandchildren become a politician.if you keep fighting against the BLP no one will want them to joined the party in the future because of your actions and attitude against your own p9.

    Reply
    • miche February 10, 2017 at 10:08 pm

      Skipper ,No one has to say anything against the BLP to stop children or grans from Joining the party ! You see ,on their present trend,,,They will be no BLP when they become of age, just look at the many defectors that are now trying to form new parties….90% of whom are from their ranks,,,they are imploding,,,,,,and thats the worst kind of destruction

      Reply
  21. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn February 10, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Against your own party.

    Reply
  22. Helicopter(8P) February 10, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Well said Mr Arthur maybe that will clarify the mind of each and every Barbadian!

    Reply
  23. Adrian February 10, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Some rather interesting comments. Is this the same Mr. Arthur that receives so many praises when he makes a statement that may appear to be against the current administration?

    Reply
  24. Caswell Franklyn February 10, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    I am surprised and disappointed by the position taken by Mr. Arthur. He must know that he is not telling the truth on the increase in salaries for MPs and the restoration of the 8% pay cut.

    Can Mr. Arthur point us to where the Government ever said or suggested that the reduction in MPs pay would have been for a limited period. None of members of the Government ever said that the cut was for a short period prior to their first attempt to increase their salaries in April 2016. It is a lie that Arthur is repeating for reasons best known to himself.

    In 1994, I was a member of the Barbados Labour Party. At the first conference, held at St. James Secondary School, after the Government changed, I raised the prospect of the Government repaying the 8% pay cut. Arthur stated to the conference that he had no intention of paying it back since he did not cut it. The conference, with the exception of George Griffith and myself supported Arthur’s position.

    Arthur only returned the money in 2000 when it was politically expedient for him to do so and then he took back most of it in the form of income tax.

    Please Mr. Arthur do not re-write History, I won’t let you.

    Reply
  25. Randolph February 10, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    He should stop drinking.

    Reply
  26. Delores February 10, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Caswell, I agree with you. I have searched and searched to find out where a timeline was attached to the restoration of the salary and cannot find it. All I want is for someone to guide me to this. What Mr Arthur is saying may have some credence to it but they decided to reduce by 10% because of the state of the economy at the time, the economy is now worst so where is the rationale. Additionally, Vat has not been restored to 15%, income, corporation, value added, municipal solid waste, withholding taxes, to mention a few are all outstanding. When you write to the BRA about your interest you are not even acknowledged. Well don’t let me get started on the BRA – a good concept but like every thing else this government has touched – totally messed up starting aat the top.

    Reply
  27. F M. Gibbons February 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

    I am always amazed when persons can kick down the very ladder which they used to climb to the top of the building and for their own selfish reasons. Don’t matter what position we reach in life we should always acknowledge where we came from and who help to put us there but I know too well that some persons are short on gratitude. I respect persons in public life who always seek to speak truth although it might be a difficult task, and when in doubt they should always check their facts before uttering a single word because these words will return to haunt you. I can also support the fact that when you write BRA telling them about your interest which is due to you by law, they completely ignore you. I wrote them last year and was not even acknowledged, I will write them again this year.

    Reply
  28. Observer February 14, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Really do not see what all of the fuss is about. The politicians decided to make a sacrifice of 10 % of their salary. No other public servant has done so or no other member of the public for that matter. There have given up over 1 million dollars over the period. In fact the solution to the fiscal problem would have been to have a salary cut across the board for everyone sufficient to close the gap. Just like MR. Sandiford did. We cannot do that anymore thanks to Mr. Arthur who for political reasons passed a law that prohibits such. The good thing about this solution would have been that those who were earning large salaries would have made the greatest contribution and no one would have lost his or her job. Now we will all have to carry a heavier burden since there is no easy way out of this one. This is no a BLP , DLP thing. We are just living above our means.

    Reply
  29. David Hall February 14, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I don’t often disagree with the learned Arthur-but this time I certainly do. if Mr Arthur is unwilling to at least concede that now is a bad time or insensitive time to restore the 10 % pay cut to ministers, whether or not it was previously agreed that it be restored; then i doubt his sincerity and credibility on the issue.
    I am therefore inclined to believe, that his hatred of the current BLP leader had rendered him completely biased against her every move. Furthermore, as far as the 20 % plus pay increase being requested by the Unions go; Arthur, better than anyone else knows that all kinds of demands will always be made by bargaining agents but that negotiations and common sense has always prevailed in Barbados and will do so even now. I am therefore ashamed that a man of his statue would stoop so low to use this issue to simply vent what seems to me, to be his unforgiving spirit of anger against the entire BLP because of his dislike of Ms Mottley.

    Reply
    • Carson C Cadogan February 24, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      hahahaha

      BLP members and supporters just dont know which way is up.

      When OWEN ARTHUR speaks what some interprets as anti Govt. words he is the wisest man on Earth. When OWEN ARTHUR speaks what is the TRUTH against MIA AMOR MOTTLEY and the BLP, he is the most foolish man on Earth.

      Make up your minds BLP people. You all just sound stupid.

      Reply

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