Public sector pay rise still on the cards

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is cautioning that while he is prepared to grant public servants “a level of relief”, it will not be done to the detriment of the economy.

However, he said any increase at this time must be linked to productivity.

The island’s largest public sector trade union, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), has been pressing Government for a 23 per cent hike for its members, while the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) wants a 15 per cent rise.

Government had put a $49 million lump sum payment in the form of a coping subsidy on the table last month that was flatly rejected by the NUPW, which demanded an additional $11 million.

The NUPW had been joined by the BWU, as well as the Barbados Union of Teachers and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, in requesting a subsidy to help public sector workers cope with the burdensome National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) and other measures imposed by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in his May 30, 2017 austerity Budget.

But on the first day of a two-day strike by the NUPW last week, BWU General Secretary Toni Moore made it clear her union was not interested in any “token” lump sum payment because it would “give workers instant gratification for a weekend and return them to the same position in the following week”.

In an address today to the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry January luncheon at the Hilton Barbados Resort, the Prime Minister broke his silence on the matter, saying Government’s intention had been to grant public sector workers relief based on the performance of the controversial NSRL.

However, he said several conditions had to be taken into consideration.

“In any analysis of fiscal sustainability, it must be recognized that salaries and wages represent the second largest public expenditure category in the approved budgetary allocations. It is imperative, therefore, that any wage agreements reached ensure that wage growth is in line with productivity levels in the public service, as well as with fiscal and monetary policy objectives, and do not have the effect of distorting and undermining the current macroeconomic fundamentals.

“In relation to the ongoing discussions between the Government and the public sector our hope is that some measure of relief could be provided to public servants from the gains to be derived from the recently implemented National Social Responsibility Levy was conditioned on what was actually achieved by the measure. Non- salary and salary alternatives are being explored to see what accommodation can be considered,” he assured.

The Prime Minister, in his usual calm demeanor, said while his administration was desirous of providing “a level of relief, let us be mindful that Barbados is not the only country in which public sector workers have experienced wage rigidity”.

Pointing to the United Kingdom as one such example, Stuart said while public sector workers in that country had experienced a wage freeze from 2010-2013, they had only received a “one per cent cap in pay rise increases between 2013 and 2017”.

Thousands of people had taken to the streets on central London in July in a march against the UK government’s public sector pay cap and austerity measures.

“We must remember that in Barbados, wages and working conditions in the public sector are comparatively higher than comparable average wages and working conditions in the private sector,” he added.

Following the lukewarm response by public servants to last week’s strike call by the NUPW, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo said the workers had understood Government’s fiscal situation and reported for work as a result.

“I think a lot of people have been reading the situation well. At the end of the day Barbadians are intelligent people. The workers understand that anybody who could promise them at the end of the day that they would get a significant increase in salary is only pulling their legs for short-term gain. The workers understand this and they realize that this is not the time for industrial action,” Byer-Suckoo told Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of a political meeting last weekend.

11 Responses to Public sector pay rise still on the cards

  1. John Everatt January 25, 2018 at 6:21 am

    So do the public workers think that they are the only ones to suffer? The majority of the population also feels the pressure of rising prices. We go to the grocery store and find that $100 buys only a bag or two of goods if you include a few rolls of toilet paper in the purchase. It is not only civil servants who are suffering from this.

  2. archy perch January 25, 2018 at 7:33 am

    John….the price increases are also due to the greed of Charles Herbert, Ed Abed and those cry-babies.But I see the IMF has predicted the GDP growth for your former birth-place Britain at 1.5% in 2018 –down from 1.6% in 2017 mainly due to Brexit.
    Your piers in Britain were cautioned by Cameron not to vote for Brexit to spite his government; they did it anyway. Big mistake; Britain’s economy is struggling. Barbados needs to take warning.

  3. Mark Rosmar January 25, 2018 at 10:27 am

    “Thousands of people had taken to the streets on central London in July in a march against the UK government’s public sector pay cap and austerity measures.” You meanThousands of idiots who prefer a socialist Utopian state. Stop distorting the facts Mr Stuart.

  4. Sweetiepie January 25, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Forget bout the dam union. Them only represent 9000 ah we. 9000 out of 24000 and them could determine whether we get a coping subsidy or not. Come on Mr. Prime Minister forget the union and give us the $49 million.

  5. Atman January 25, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Just ring de RH bell Stuart…I doan wanna hear one RH from you at this stage!!!

  6. Buun January 25, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    “Increase at this time must be linked to productivity” this also goes for the DLPs. Would you not agree? But you guys got your 10% increase, yeah?

    Stop playing with words, that all you guys do!

  7. Joy January 25, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    If politicians pay was tied to productivity some of them would have to pay back money to the Consolidated Fund.

    • The Truth January 25, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      We sick of hearing you Stuart and your DLP jokers. Call de damn elections. Stupse

  8. Peter Pan January 25, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    When General Elections are called , what will change ?

    You only have one vote , The Ttuth !

    The PM is quite correctly pointing out to citizens that Barbados and indeed many countries across the globe are having tough economic challenges.

    You must admit that is the ……TRUTH ?

  9. luther thorne January 25, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Productivity in Barbados is down way down.
    Who is the Productivity Champion?
    Productivity in Barbados is down because of the gender imbalance in the workplace and we know which gender does not like to work , does not go beyond call of duty, if du finger hurt duh , duh run to a doctpr, always complaining, treats the customers bad dont like people and the list goes on

  10. milli watt January 25, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Ring around the rosy, Pocket full of posies, Ashes, ashes, we all fall down lolololololol. yuh got to love FRUNS


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