A handful of civil servants were seen midday Thursday at the lunch hour protest action at the Ministerial Complex called by the Public Workers Union (PWU) which is seeking to escalate the industrial relations climate in the country in the battle against the Keith Mitchell-led government on the 4% increase in salary issue.
Several other state workers looked out from the balcony of the Complex at the Botanical Gardens in Tanteen as their colleagues assembled on the grounds amidst a heavy police presence for the activity which lasted just under one-hour.
Government has been facing protest action from public sector unions following its decision to renege on the signed agreement to pay the 4% increase in salary to public officers from the end of January.
Citing a drop in revenue due to the impact of the coronavirus on the island in the past year, the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister Mitchell promised to start making the payments no later than December 30, 2021.
President of the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC), Senator Andre Lewis was present at the PWU protest action and delivered a brief address to the members as a show of support for their action against the regime which PWU boss Brian Grimes has described as the most anti-worker government in the history of Grenada.
Public Relations Officer of the union, Daisy Hazzard told THE NEW TODAY that she was heartened by the turn-out in light of fears among public officers of possible retaliation from the Mitchell administration.
“We are very, very satisfied with the turn-out of our workers today. We know that our workers have been facing ongoing victimisation and discrimination in the workplace and so a lot of workers although they know their rights, are very timid to support,” she said.
“…Today we are very heartened and we feel very proud of our workers to see the numbers who came out here, sacrificed their lunch break to support this union activity,” she added.
According to Hazzard, the PWU at this stage cannot give any indication as to what form its next action will be like in the ongoing impasse with government.
She said that trade unions in Grenada have a lot of latitude in terms of what possible actions can be taken in keeping with the Labour Code and this will be determined by the executive and the membership as they plan the way ahead.
There was a lesser police presence at the PWU event at government’s Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens compared to two weeks ago when the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) staged a march in the streets of St. George on the 4% issue.
THE NEW TODAY reporter on assignment did not notice any member of the crack paramilitary Special Services Unit (SSU) and the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) at the Ministerial Complex.
Police Commissioner Edvin Martin and the Police High Command have been coming under heavy criticism for allegedly using the para-military arms of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) in an illegal manner to engage in intimidation tactics against the peaceful protest march against the Mitchell regime.
A senior police officer has said that regular uniformed police officers are the ones who should be deployed to accompany peaceful protestors through the streets of the city.
He stated that the para-military arm of the force should be placed in strategic areas and out of the view of the public and only deployed if the situation escalated and posed a threat to national security.
The SSU was created and trained by the United States after it staged a military intervention in Grenada on October 25, 1983 to remove from power the military junta of General Hudson Austin that had seized power six days earlier in a bloody coup in which Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was executed.