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Government and unions wage talks stall in the face of unrealistic demands

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Salary talks between the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) and the joint negotiating union team of Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) became stalled and deadlocked at the third session which took place on Tuesday, 8 October 2019.

The unions are insisting on a near 25% increase in pay, without providing a shred of written justification for their demands. Those demands would increase the government’s expenditure on salaries by more than $90 million over the next three-year contract cycle.

The demand is highly unrealistic and far exceeds any such payment of salary increases locally and in the region, including lucrative businesses in banking and other areas of the private sector, with which TAWU and other unions have signed.

During the last contract cycle, workers received increases every year during 2017 to 2019, amounting to 10% compounded increase over the period. The unions’ current demand, amounting to 150% of the previous settlement, is unsustainable and unprecedented.

By comparison, in Barbados, after almost eight years of no increases, trade unions accepted a 5% one-off increase, without back pay, while at the same time having to face increased rates and other taxes.

The unions’ demand for a near 25% increase in pay will overturn all of the sacrifices made by the country to achieve fiscal stability and economic growth. Millions of dollars in grants and concessionary loans currently secured by Grenada would be extinguished; programmes of house repair and training programmes for the youth and labour assistance to farmers would have to be cut and this would also significantly reduce the assistance government provides to homes for the elderly and any wage increase which would go to workers there.

Additionally, Grenada will have to resort to measures applied in neighbouring Barbados and hundreds of public officers would have to be retrenched, something which the Government of Grenada has successfully avoided. Worse, those demands would trigger an inflationary spiral and lead to a flight of direct foreign investment from the local economy leading to job losses in the private sector and a return to high unemployment and fall in family incomes once again.

Since June, the GNT circulated to the unions its Policy Guidelines for Salary Increases which emphasised that salary negotiations must be fact-based and within the Fiscal Responsibility Law.

In an earlier letter to the unions, the GNT warned that this unrealistic demand “raises the question of good faith collective bargaining.” It also counselled that “One ought not to come to the table with demands which are financially impossible for an employer to meet.”

In its letter, the GNT requested that the unions revise their demands within reason and reminded them that by law, negotiations should be concluded on salary increases by October 31 in order to meet inclusion in the budgetary allocations for the fiscal year 2020.

The GNT proposes an increase to public officers of $26.5 million, as part of an overall package where the state has already made additions to the restoration of pensions to appointed, qualifying public officers. Additionally, the state would have to meet further increases through increments to those public officers whose contracts of employment would now be of an unspecified period, giving them permanent tenure.

On the issue of fringe benefits which is yet another expense for the state, the GNT pointed out that the upcoming comprehensive job evaluation carded to commence soon, would see further increases in the salary of public officers, in addition to the negotiated increases. Therefore, increases to and additional fringe benefits negotiations cannot be entertained before the job evaluation exercise. In effect, public officers will receive three streams of increases in 2020.

Thus, the unions’ failure to adopt a realistic and reasonable stance in Tuesday’s negotiations, has resulted in the salary negotiations being declared deadlocked. Under the provisions of the Collective Labour Agreements as well as the Labour Code, the dispute has been referred to the Ministry of Labour for conciliation by the Labour Commissioner.

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Caribbean & World

Bus drivers charged for violating Emergency Powers Regulations

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Two St George bus drivers have been charged with violating Section13 (1)a, of the 2020 Emergency Powers (Covid-19) Regulations.

Alric Noel, 27 years, of Victoria, St Mark, Driver of the Zone 1 bus route was found to be carrying approximately 17 persons on a passenger bus, while Lorris Phillip, 49, of Beaulieu was stopped along the Tempe route with an overloaded (passenger) bus.

Both men are in police custody pending bail.

The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) is once again appealing to persons to comply with the 2020 Emergency Powers (Covid-19) Regulations.

Section13 (1)a of the Emergency Powers (Covid-19) Regulations states that no person shall offer for hire or seek to travel on any motor omnibus, unless there is or would be, not more than one passenger per row in the motor omnibus in a staggered formation.

A person who contravenes or fails to comply with these regulations shall be guilty of an offence and, on summary conviction, liable to a fine of $1,000 and to imprisonment for 12 months and to forfeiture of any goods or money in respect of which the offence has been committed.

Office of Commissioner of Police

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TAMCC release to students | NOW Grenada

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Please be assured that during this very difficult time the college is continuously assessing and reassessing its position as it relates to the submission of SBAs and the impending administration of final exams for both the 9-week and 15-week semesters.

We want you to know that the health and welfare of our college community remain our top priority as we grapple with the impact Covid-19 coronavirus is creating around the world and in our local community. We are also cognisant of the government’s decision to declare a State of Emergency for our tri-island state. It is with this in mind I wish to inform you of some new developments:

  • That you are expected to attend classes virtually/remotely and in accordance with the guidelines given by your lecturers, because we are currently not on vacation;
  • That some of the assessments given virtually/remotely will form part of your final grade. So, there may not be in-class final exams, rather on-line exams or continuous assessments. Hence, it is important that you attend all classes scheduled virtually by your lecturers. Please take these classes seriously! The lecturers are making tremendous sacrifices to ensure you are given the syllabus;
  • That the new deadline being considered for the submission of ALL SBAs (hard and soft copies) is 22 April 2020. Therefore, science students are not required to submit SBAs in early April as was previously communicated;
  • Students who are required to submit SBAs via softcopy must continue to do so as the platform will be open until 22 April 2020;
  • It has been suggested by CXC that CAPE exams be held in June/July. You will be apprised once this is finalised.

If you are experiencing difficulties with attending classes virtually or submitting your SBAs, please contact any one of the following officials via email:

  • Your lecturer
  • Acting Registrar
  • Assistant Registrar Exam
  • IT Director

You are advised to report difficulties with the submission of SBAs before the stipulated deadline, preferably by 3 April 2020. Difficulties with the learning platforms must be reported immediately.

If you are not receiving emails from the SASPS mailing list, kindly follow the instructions below.

Send all requests to get support via email to [email protected]

TAMCC

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Missing woman found | NOW Grenada

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Ann Bowen of Happy Hill, St George who had been reported missing has been found safe and well.

The Royal Grenada Police Force thanks the general public and the media for their continued support.

Office of Commissioner of Police

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