The Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) has rejected a proposal put forward by government on Friday to pay the outstanding 4% salary increase due to teachers “on or before December 31, 2021”.
According to GUT President Marvin Andall, the offer was rejected during a meeting held with the Labour Commissioner, Cyrus Griffith and the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) led by Foreign Affairs Minister Oliver Joseph and he vowed that “the struggle continues” until the payment which was due in January is paid to teachers.
Andall said the government side repeated earlier statements that the current revenue collection does not afford them the opportunity to pay the salary increase that was agreed upon in negotiations with GUT.
The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration has said that Covid-19 has took a toll on government’s revenue collection in the past eleven months.
Andall told teachers in a video in circulation that GUT acknowledged that there was a drop in revenue but doubted that it was 50% as government was making it out to be in public pronouncements and that the figures were “significantly inflated” and not accurate.
He said that the counter proposal put forward by the union to the government team is for the Mitchell regime to review the revenue collection situation by the end of March and to consider making the agreed upon 4% payment on or before the end of May.
He said the Minister indicated that the proposal will be taken to Cabinet for consideration and also made a request for the union to call off the industrial action now taking place which includes daily protest action culminating every Friday with a march in a different parish to press their demands.
According to Andall, the union had to remind Minister Joseph that there is nothing in the labour laws of the country which prevent them from engaging in such activities given the state of the impasse.
He said: “The minister was reminded of the section dealing with Dispute Resolution in the agreement which read, “No part of this section should be interpreted to mean either party cannot be engaged in any form of industrial action for the furtherance of their cause whether in whole or in part or in solidarity at any stage, save and except during the process of arbitration.
“The union wishes to thank all its members and the General Public for their tremendous support and encouragement,” he added.
In a later interview with THE NEW TODAY, Andall elaborated on what he called the “misleading figures” and “bogus calculation” put out by the Mitchell-led NNP regime on revenue shortfall since Covid-19 hit the island in March 2020.
He said a check on the Ministry of Finance website where the figures can be found is painting a much different picture in terms of the data given by government ministers on the 4% issue.
“There is not a single month that it was 50% (decline). There was a decline in revenue but don’t tell me it was 50% – that’s a lie, it is not true – don’t come and say that,” he remarked.
According to Andall, even the government claim that it will have to find $13.2 million a year to meet the salary increases to public officers is not true.
Saying that Maths is a science that deals with specific numbers, the GUT President accused the Mitchell government of inflating figures “to make things look different than it is”.
Government is also battling with the 4% salary increase issue with two other public sector unions – the Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU).