Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley cannot grasp the labour movement’s attitude towards the initial 2% offer in wage negotiations for public servants for the last eight year period.
Dr. Rowley, in his Labour Day message this year, said he felt the union’s expression as it relates to the issue was not reflective of normal industrial relations practice.
“I will admit that the strong language, which is being repeated in the public space has left me a bit puzzled, because it does not reflect, either normal industrial relations practice, or the economic realities facing Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
“It is being said that the Labour movement feels disrespected by the initial offer to Public Sector trade unions, although I, clearly indicated that the offer was the initial negotiating position, and that negotiations would soon begin with the various bodies,” he added.
Dr. Rowley noted the initial offer has been doubled.
“The Chief Personnel Officer made a two per cent initial offer over an eight-year period from 2014-2021. The offer has since been increased to four per cent over a six-year period 2014-2019, which will cost the Government $2.5 billion in back pay up to June 2022, and be committed to a further $500 million, annually, just for the civil service, teaching service, defence force, protective services and daily rated workers.”
He added: “To this must be added the cost of a wage increase for statutory authorities and state enterprises, which will increase the total cost of a four percent increase by as much as a further 50%.”
“Should negotiations be settled at eight per cent, those figures will literally double, taking back pay to over $5 Billion and the annual recurrent cost to over $1.5 Billion,” he explained.