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Restore pension and gratuity to public officers

Female head of the PWU- Rachael Roberts

The thorny issue of pension payment to public officers was again raised by the Public Workers Union (PWU) on May Day which was celebrated in Grenada last week Friday without the traditional march and speeches by union leaders due to restriction of movement caused by the coronavirus.

In her speech to mark the day, PWU President Rachael Roberts called on the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to restore Pension and Gratuity of public officers that was disrupted by the 1979-83 left-leaning People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.

The regime had suspended the Grenada Constitution when it came to power in a coup d’etat staged by the New Jewel Movement (NJM) against the elected Eric Gairy government on March 13, 1979.

The Bishop-led PRG has sought to replace the pension and gratuity provisions covered by the constitution with the creation of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) in 1983.

A High Court judge has already ruled that the purported removal of the benefits to public officers are null and void and unconstitutional thus opening the door for unions representing public sector workers to lay a claim for payments on behalf of their membership.

The PWU female boss raised the issue in the form of a question to the Mitchell-led government which is waging a war with the unions on its commitment to restore pension and gratuity.

Roberts said: Public officers, isn’t it therefore extremely important, in this era of COVID-19, that our Government keeps us safe and secure by returning pension and gratuity that was un-ceremonially revoked from public officers on April 4th 1983, while our Government safeguarded their pension?

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the May Day address by President Roberts which was delivered under the theme, “GTUC Celebrating 65 – Educating, Empowering and Building Capacity among Workers.”

The Grenada Public Workers’ Union (GPWU) is extremely saddened that for the first time in history, Grenada and the world are celebrating May Day – Workers’ Day without a grand street march, with voices raised, dramatising our burning issues and calling on our Governments to create needed change. Sadly, we are celebrating in lockdown, behind closed doors, practicing social distancing.

COVID-19, our invisible, deadly enemy, has forced workers everywhere to retreat to our homes for our protection on May Day, for a celebration that demands a show of solidarity, togetherness, unity and strength, by coming together in numbers.

Workers, we are resilient and we shall overcome, we shall not allow COVID-19 to define us nor defeat us. However, within the confines of our homes, we shall endeavour to have the best celebration ever, considering our safety and health, celebrating with our families and demonstrating the importance of the family to the Labour Movement.

We shall protect ourselves and our families and friends and celebrate through the lens of our televisions screens and social media to bring across the message that workers and especially public sector workers are critical to the growth and development of every country.

As the World Bank indicates, “COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of effective public institutions to protect lives and livelihoods”.

GPWU therefore calls on our Government and employers to protect and respect Public Sector Workers. Please treat Public Sector workers with the honour and dignity that we deserve in this COVID-19 crisis. We specially call on Government to show respect to the TAMCC workers by awarding them their long outstanding increment.

Workers, we are therefore very confident that the Government elected to serve the needs of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique will show their worth and as we say in local parlance their “salt”, by providing the assurance and empathy to workers and their families through safeguarding and protecting the welfare and well-being of workers and their families in the Public Sector.

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Workers, we demonstrate appreciation and thanks to our Government and employers for ensuring our jobs are safe and that we have bread on the table every day to feed ourselves and our families. Workers, isn’t this the quality of Government and employers we need in this COVID-19 crisis who will take care of our needs?

Workers, COVID-19 crisis demands that our Government prove themselves as a Government that puts people first. A Government that puts people before profit. A Government that cares about the psychological, mental, social and financial needs of workers and people. We therefore salute our Government and employers for keeping Public Sector Workers safe and secure. Workers give them a Hurray!!!!   People first; hats off to them. Hurray!!!!

Public Service International (PSI) has stated that the “ongoing Coronavirus outbreak is exposing the vital need for quality public services – especially well-staffed, resilient public health systems” and therefore we are very confident that our Government would recognise and rise to the task to ensure the stability and job security of health care workers, awarding them permanent, established appointments through the Public Service Commission (PSC).

We are also confident that a Government that cares for its people, will regularise and award Public Service Commission appointments to all public sector workers on the frontline who are putting themselves at risk each day to collect revenues, manage our finances and the other needs of our people.

Government, we call on you to consider the financial needs of public sector contract workers and allow them the ability to approach a financial institution and obtain a loan.

Workers, in this COVID-19 crisis we are seeing the importance and value of social security measures and especially the critical value of pension to keep our retired public sector officers financially safe and secure.

Public officers, isn’t it therefore extremely important, in this era of COVID-19, that our Government keeps us safe and secure by returning pension and gratuity that was un-ceremonially revoked from public officers on April 4th 1983, while our Government safeguarded their pension?

Public sector workers, let us hold our Government accountable to do the right things in this COVID-19 crisis for workers and the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. We therefore call on them to efficiently utilise all financial and other resources to safeguard the health and financial welfare of our nation’s people.

We call on our employer to ensure our frontline workers are equipped with the necessary PPE’s and are safe, because “safe workers, save lives”. Public officers, GPWU will continue to dialogue and work with our employer in the interest of all our members and we shall on a daily basis ensure the needs of frontline workers are cared for. Workers, your Union shall remain vigilant and committed with the support of our regional and international bodies to protecting your best interest.

Grenada Public Workers’ Union (GPWU) salutes and thank all its members and workers on the frontline as we battle the invisible, deadly enemy COVID-19.

GPWU says special thanks and appreciation to all of you for your selfless service to the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

We urge all workers and members to stay safe and remember to clean your hands with soap and water or sanitise, wear your mask and all necessary PPE’s.

Treat COVID-19 seriously and be vigilant. Safe Workers, Save Lives, Solidarity Forever. Together we shall overcome.

Long Live the GPWU, Long Live the GTUC, Long live the Workers of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Long Live Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Thank You.

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