The Joint Negotiating Team (JNT) of the Grenada Public Workers’ Union (GPWU) and the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers’ Union (GTAWU), brings attention to the dishonest, disrespectful and illegal actions of the Government of Grenada, in regards to the 4% increase in wages and salaries due to Public Officers, on January 31, 2021 in accordance to a legally binding, collective agreement.
Government has blatantly refused to pay public workers their duly negotiated 4% increase for the year 2021. Rather, they have engaged in the usual underhanded and divisive tactics to publicly discredit workers. Government continues to recite its customary litany of woes to frighten the public and is doing everything in their power to disadvantage public workers but will not respect the law, and pay their legal increases.
Members, workers recall that the battle for the 4% increase was not an easy one. So, while the Government throws out figures in the million’s willy nilly, using the Houses of Parliament (the People’s House) to make a case against workers, the reality is that for the bulk of workers, this represents a paltry amount on their actual pay cheque. Even worse, contract workers and those on contract for service who labour under discriminatory conditions, with no job security or prospect of a gratuity or pension, many never receive this increase. Government continues to unconscionably hire Grenadians in exploitative and precarious ways, directly contravening local and international labour laws.
These actions by Government are not new. An examination of the attitude of this Administration towards Public Officers and citizens of this country shows an uncaring and reckless pattern of bigotry and discrimination. Historically, this administration has shown an unwillingness to be honourable or responsible in their commitments to workers. Public Officers are always called to make the first sacrifice, while government continues to recklessly and irresponsibly prioritise things that are not relevant to support the needs of the people but promote its own political interest.
Fellow Grenadians, when the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) approached the unions in September 2020, it was NOT to ask for a Deferral but they were bold enough to ask workers to FOREGO – GIVE UP, their well-earned and well deserved, 4% increases.
After due consultation, workers rejected this heartless demand but taking into consideration the impact of COVID-19, the JNT placed on the table an offer of DEFERRAL with conditions, recognising especially the hardship of contract workers. Failing to meet these conditions, the increases had to be paid at the end of January 2021.
Rather than the GNT engage the unions in good faith to come to a mutual resolution, as usual, Government engaged in public warfare against the public workers of this country.
Can you believe that Government continues to disrespect our members even in the face of the sacrifices that they persistently make during this pandemic. Brothers and sisters, if we ever misunderstood the role and might of public officers in the development of this country, COVID- 19 vividly clarified this and shone a bright light on the work of public service workers. Day after day, it is our health care workers, customs officials, revenue collectors and other officers in every strata of the service, standing on the frontlines to keep this country safe and functioning. Government has only given words of thanks and NOISE to workers for their toil, dedication and sacrifice. Fellow citizens, “Noise in the market cannot buy jacks!”
Government would like us all to believe that they just cannot afford to pay. A totally false claim! The truth is Government just does not want to pay! Whenever it is time to pay a Public Officer or a Grenadian, this administration REFUSES to pay. Up to now this country has not been truthfully told where $63 million USD was found to pay for GRENLEC. We know it was not found through loans and grants. The explanations that Government has given are not credible. As an example, however, what we know for sure is that the amount owed to Gemma Bain Thomas, a Public Officer, born and bred on this soil, is a measly amount in comparison to WRB Millions but government has refused to pay her. They demonstrate no respect for our laws or our people; only international courts and foreigners.
Workers have sacrificed, toiled and demonstrated their love for country time after time. Even now, we reaffirm and demonstrate our continued commitment to keeping our country safe and our economy moving, yet still Government is seeking to disadvantage workers. Why are we always chosen to be government’s sacrificial lambs? Government cannot continue to boast about doing well by robbing and squeezing the necks of public servants and attempting to take away what is legally theirs. Government should not climb on the backs of Public workers. They must practice good governance, integrity, responsible and accountable fiscal management.
Public Workers say to government NO, not this time, we shall not be tricked! It is an absurdity for this administration to expect workers to accept in the words of Minister Joseph, that: “Government will pay the monies owed to workers retroactively; ‘sometime’ in the future, ‘whenever’ they can.” That is blatant disrespect and we denounce it in the strongest terms.
The JNT calls on government to obey the law. JNT stands firm in ensuring that workers’ legal increases are respected and honoured.
GPWU and GTAWU