Gov’t would pay increases if union insists — PM

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (File photo).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – If the Public Service Union (PSU) forces the government to pay before it can afford the salary increase owed since January 2011, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves would take money from other programmes that benefit public servants, their children, or both.

Trade unions representing state employees — except the PSU — agreed with the government late last year to wait until June for a further review of the nation’s economic circumstances to determine whether the salary increase can be paid then.

Union members, at a Jan. 5 meeting, instructed the union to ask the government to consider its Dec. 8 proposal that the government pay in 2012 a negotiated portion of the agreed 3 per cent, and pay the balance due in December, retroactively.

The PSU said at a Jan. 10 press briefing that forgoing the wage increase this year amounts to salary deduction for public servants.

The union’s general secretary, Elroy Boucher, noted the increases in water and solid waste rates and property taxes while there has not been a salary increase for public servants in two years.

‘… cost of living has gone up and you are paying more for food,” Boucher told reporters.

“The government says the economy can’t afford it, but at the same time you are giving permission for these increases. Where are public servants going to find the extra money to pay the water bill, whatever that increase is?” Boucher further said.

The Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) announced last week that consumers here will in February begin paying at least EC$5 more each month for water and garbage disposal.

Meanwhile, owners of properties with a market value of more than EC$25,000 will see their taxes increase an average of 15 per cent or as much as 25 per cent.

But Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said at a press briefing on Wednesday that he was satisfied that the vast majority of public servants think that his government’s position on the salary increase is reasonable.

“The fact that a particular trade union representative says something doesn’t mean that that trade unionist, on this issue, speaks for the majority of the people whom he represents,” Gonsalves said.

“Because the bulk of those members in the Public Service, they also voted for me you know – for the government,” said Gonsalves, whose Unity Labour Party was returned to office for a third term in December 2010.

“So don’t create an impression that because you are president of a public service union you necessarily speak for the entire membership,” he further added.

Gonsalves reiterated that his government has “not acted unreasonably”.

“So, okay, what do you do? Let’s take it to the most extreme militant point — where it would not reach. You close down the government by not turning up to work. … I say okay, that is what you want to do, fine.

“I pay you your increase but the EC$14 million that I have for students to go to university, … since I can’t print the money, I have to take the EC$7 million from there, or at least, I take a portion from there,” Gonsalves.

“In other words, reshuffle the pack,” he added.

“Some of the same public servants have children going to university. Some of them may themselves be going; they can’t have any money to finish their programmes because there is no money,” he further stated, adding, “These are the realities … and I put that in a practical sense.”

Gonsalves said that public servants, teachers, and police, “have done pretty well” in terms of salaries, working condition, opportunities for study, the 100 per cent mortgages and other benefits since his government came to office in March 2001.

“But if you want to hold it and beat Ralph on his head with it, go ahead. If that gives you some pleasure, by all means, do it. … It doesn’t change anything. You still come back to the facts on the ground,” Gonsalves further stated.

He further said that he was informed that 35 persons attended the Jan. 5 meeting of PSU members and some of the attendees said the government was reasonable in the circumstances.

“The fact that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is holding things together and making progress in going forward is a remarkable thing for a small country,” said Gonsalves of the nation that has already confirmed three consecutive years of economic decline and possibly a fourth last year.

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10 thoughts on “Gov’t would pay increases if union insists — PM

  1. Ralph is the greatest. When I was small I think we called that gambadge.

    Posted by TAD | January 22, 2012, 16:06
  2. So true PM..but its not only teachers and students who use water at schools….persons from the communities who have pipe-borne water in their homes, also go to the school fountains to collect water after school hours…. What are the watchmen and watchwomen doing?

    Posted by no-nonsense | January 22, 2012, 21:00
    • What a load of diatribe and arrogance! This is tantamount to blackmailing the unions and their representatives into subjugation….
      It is opined that the union representatives should call such a threat BLUFF and proceed to take whatever action is necessary to stand up for their rights and freedoms in these harsh economic times!

      It will be interesting to see the P.M taking such drastic measures that would contradict his own government policies on a) the so – called ‘education revolution’ and b) his party’s (ULP) Manifesto promise of having at least 1 graduate per household by 2020.

      Wake up people!

      Posted by Dennis Lampkin | January 22, 2012, 23:51
  3. Gonsalves your head will explode its getting so big and swollen. The only people you can be sure voted for you are those in your constituency, many others voted for their choice of MP in their constituency. You are such a conceted man, you believe everyone loves you, I believe the majority find you a distasteful man.

    Your behaviour towards the unions is very Cuban, where the state controls the unions and they work within the set limits. Very Marxist, well done. Don’t do as I do, do as I say attitude.

    What you should be doing is to put the airport on hold, pay the outstanding bills, pay the rest of the people for the land at Argyle which has been stolen from them. Pay all the companies, suppliers who are owed multi millions, they are verging on bankruptsy. Pay the NIS back the peoples money which has been wrongly loaned to the airport project. Pay the people all the wages outstanding. Pay the little truck owners who are owed money for months and years. Pay the people their expences which in some case have not been paid in months and years.
    Pay all the oustanding treasury bills issued, and don’t issue anymore.
    When you have paid all the debts and bills, start the airport construction again

    Stop making contracts with unions and perhaps others, which knowingly are unconstitutional and unenforceable, its a crime against the people, its a crime against humanity.


    Posted by Peter | January 23, 2012, 10:24
  4. If this was an election year, all’yo would ah see how fast PM Gonsolve find money to pay all’yo. If All’yo, ain’t prepare to put all’yo money where All’yo mouth dey and call out PM Gonsolve on this one, if Allyo’ ain’t prepare to “NAH TUN BACK” pon this one… then all’yo better be prepared to wait ’til next election fo’ all’yo money. Ralph will tell all’yo just what he told all’yo last election… “If all yo’ want all yo’ money, all’ yo better vote ULP”. There are many who will agree with him. What ah thing?…HEY! HEY!HEY!HEY!

    Posted by Olbap | January 23, 2012, 10:57
  5. Oh! and pay CWSA the water bills.

    Pay VINLEC the power bills

    Cut the crap and pay, or as they say pay up and look big. Wowh there, your already real big so forget the last bit.

    bye for now, how does that Humpty Dumpty poem go?

    Posted by Peter | January 23, 2012, 11:31
  6. Is this another way of saying we are broke????? I cannot believe this nonsense, Dennis I think you hit the nail on the head, it is blackmailing, and look who he’s using: the same education he boasts about. Now its if people want their increase, it means the kids won’t go to school. He won’t take the money from anywhere else, he is willing to take it away from the kids. WATCH A MAN.


    Posted by vincy in bad shape | January 23, 2012, 12:17
  7. Haha! Only in SVG. Trick dem ComRed, trick dem! What a bunch of jokers. This guy thinks he can run game on everybody and throw all these guilt trips to make people back down. If they make noise, give them the increase and then turn around later now and tell those poor-relief dependents that it’s the public workers that mek so…they are the ones that mek aryo cyah get poor relief this month. Tell town board workers that it’s the public servants who mek noise for more money why aryo cyah get paid. Tell the agriculture field officers the same thing about their travelling allowance.

    In other words, make an attempt to put friends and families against each other, but we already know what the unions will do…not ah ting. Sad!!

    Posted by Bagga | January 23, 2012, 16:27

    Posted by UNITY FOR SVG | January 23, 2012, 21:50
  9. 100% pure evil

    Posted by Peter | January 25, 2012, 18:28

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