Labour Minister Peter David has urged public-sector unions to answer the call to meet with the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Keith Mitchell to discuss the best way to honour the recent landmark High Court pension ruling, which will have serious fiscal implications for the country going forward.
“I have been around for many years. I have been in politics for many years, and I must say that we get better results when parties sit at the table and discuss, when competing parties sit to resolve the issues (because) if we don’t sit to resolve them, the problems become more, and it impacts us more in the future,” said Minister David.
The senior government minister was addressing the pension issue on the NNP platform in St Patrick where the ruling party held a public meeting to officially launch two of its candidates for the upcoming general election.
Minister David told party supporters that the “Ministry of Labour has over the last several years worked with the labour movement (and) has done all that is humanly possible to ensure justice for workers” and to ensure a “stable and prosperous industrial environment in the banking, commercial, manufacturing sectors, (and) in the public sector.”
He referenced the recent 4% issue, which he said, was resolved “because both the government and the unions sat down and worked out the best possible way of solving the problems”.
“Both sides indicated that there were issues but we were able to resolve it at the table” he recalled.
“And, I am making a call here this evening as a Minister of Labour, who has always sought to resolve issues in the interest of this country, I am making a call to all parties…this matter is bigger than anyone of us…get to the table, and discuss, and chart the way forward,” he urged.
Minister David went on to say: “I believe this is a matter that concerns all of us and we need to treat it seriously.”
Prime Minister Mitchell also reissued the call for a meeting with union leaders who had boycotted the first meeting on the advice of their legal counsel two weeks ago.
Prime Minister Mitchell used the NNP platform to slam those union leaders who did not attend the meeting, which was geared to discuss the assessment, and analysis of the Justice Raulston Glasgow high court ruling and its financial implications for the country.
He said that “the decision and implementation of this pension issue will involve not only the public workers of the country, it will affect every single person (in) Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique…”
“This decision,” PM Mitchell said, “is a decision for each worker in the public service. It is not a union matter directly so but because the unions are representative of the workers, we called on them to let us sit and look at the issue, and see how we can work things out together.
That is what we said from the beginning…that we would call a meeting of all trade union leadership to discuss details of what we’ve found out after an assessment of the implication of the decision,” he added.
The Grenadian leader addressed the issue in a more detailed manner during a national address last Tuesday evening, affirming that his government will not be appealing the pension ruling, and “is determined and committed to finding a fair solution.”
He told Grenadians that “preliminary indications are that we will have to find $465 million, and then on average, about $120 million each year, for at least the next 37 years, and that figure is without considering inflation.”
According to PM Mitchell, the 2022 fiscal impact of the Glasgow ruling is “estimated at between 2.2 and 7.9 percent of GDP, largely depending on how current employees who already meet the re-instated scheme eligibility conditions, react to the court ruling.”
The longstanding incumbent leader said, while his government “understands that the leadership of some trade unions has some lingering concerns – but we are determined to engage them in a meaningful way and consider their input as we chart the way forward.”