President of the Amalgamated Workers Union (AMU), Michael Prentice, says he has been described as a “Judas” and a leading member of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) after the union accepted a four percent wage increase offer from the Trinidad and Tobago government.
“We did not get up one morning and wave a magic wand and get a position,” said Prentice, adding “yes we have accepted the four percent”
A statement from the office of the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) late Monday said the collective agreement had been signed for the periods 2014-2016 and 2017-2019.
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The two parties have agreed among other matters a new job-evaluation exercise for workers, the alignment of rates of premiums and allowances enjoyed by other daily-rated workers and an increase of those rates, an increase in the rate of cost-of-living allowance (COLA), the provision of technical and vocational training, and a one-time buyout for retirees in 2014 and 2015 at TT$4,000 (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) per retiree.
But the decision by the AWU to accept the four percent wage offer comes against the backdrop of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) and its members to reject the offer while staging street protests in support of a higher figure.
Apart from the JTUM, the Police Service Social and Welfare Association (PSSWA), the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) and the Public Services Association (PSA) are among the trade unions which have rejected the CPO’s four percent offer.
Prentice, speaking on a radio station, said following his decision to sign on behalf of his union, whose membership includes funeral attendants and drivers, cooks, and counter-staff at least one fast-food outlet, as well as clerks and cleaners at malls in the capital, said he expects other trade unions to follow his lead.
“We were not the first and we will not be the last and the pushback has already started…and I am not afraid to go public and say exactly what occurred. I was asked for an emergency meeting (of the trade unions) …and all the interest at that meeting was …did you sign or not and I said yes, comrades I signed.
“Somebody has to take an interest in these workers who are continually being neglected, ignored, and bypassed, ‘Prentice said, adding that “imagine in the 21-century high profile people are scoffing at the fact that the trade union took a decision to do something in the interest of education and technical training and still people scoff at that yesterday.
Prentice said his union has put on the negotiating table proposals for the period 2020-22 “since we felt we would not allow the opportunity to go by without doing what is in the best interest of the membership by taking this proactive approach.
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