PSA ready to sign Imbert’s salary offer


PSA Chairman Leroy Baptiste Photo by Sureash Cholai

Insisting that the figures given by Finance Minister Colm Imbert for public sector wage negotiations are “grossly inflated”, the president of the Public Services Association (PSA) Leroy Baptiste nevertheless declared that he was ready to sign what was proposed on Monday.

“I have listened to the figures put forward by the Ministry of Finance regarding the cost of settling negotiations. Let’s be clear, I dispute these numbers. These figures are completely misleading. They are grossly inflated.

But, Baptiste said, “the numbers Imbert touted as to what it would cost to settle negotiations with the PSA are a $500 million increase in annual expenses and the total back wages to be settled with my people are 2.4 billion through June 2023 I’m comfortable with that.

“Tell the finance minister I want to sign this. Forget the four percent offer. I want it in black and white.

“It says an annual spending increase of $500 million – tick, I want that and I want $2.4 billion to clear the arrears of the 15,000 civil servants I represent.

“I would sit down and work out the formula, how it should be distributed to my members, with the personnel director. Just let me sign.

If Imbert read it in Monday’s budget, Baptiste said, “That means he’s there for me. He is there for my members.

In his seventh budget presentation on Monday, Imbert called PSA’s counter-offer unsustainable. unrealistic and equivalent to the annual national budget.

He said the government’s four per cent offer to settle negotiations from 2014 to 2019 for the traditional civil service, while difficult, is both practical and fair.

He said that was the best the government could do at the moment and that he was ready to follow up on his offer once accepted. However, if the unions chose the industrial tribunal approach, they would ask that these matters be expedited.

At the heart of the effective functioning of the public service, he stressed, is the establishment of a fair and equitable compensation system for public sector employees.

The approach to achieve this goal, he insisted, must be prudent and consistent with the availability of resources.

“No responsible government can contemplate bankrupting the whole country just to appease part of the workforce.”

The Amalgamated Workers Union accepted the offer and Imbert hopes others will follow.

“It should be noted that the additional annual recurring cost of our offer is approximately $500 million. It should be noted that if this offer is extended to the wider public sector, the additional cost will almost double to approximately $1 billion per year.

“The salary backlog that we have accumulated until June 2023 thanks to our offer, for the traditional civil service alone, is $2.4 billion. This will increase to $4.6 billion if the entire public sector is included,” Imbert explained.

As difficult as these amounts are to accommodate, he is committed to finding the money and making the required payments quickly.

He warned: “No more than this will cause the economy to fail, not only for the same civil servants, but for all the others.

“As an example, the counter-offer made by the PSA is untenable. The PSA countered the 4% with a request for a 19% salary increase for the 2014-2016 triennium. of the period of our offer. If accepted, it would cost $15.8 billion in arrears through June 2023.

“The additional annual recurring cost will be $1.8 billion.

“If the PSA offer is extended to the broader public sector, $30.3 billion in back wages would be required through June 2023. The additional annual recurring cost will be $3.4 billion.”

Imbert said these calculations do not take into account the second round of negotiations for 2017-19, which, if accepted, could create a reimbursement requirement of $50 billion, the equivalent of total national spending.

“Clearly, these are not serious counter-proposals. It may seem good to encourage marches or threats, but I am sure that the leaders know the facts, the reality and what is doable.

“It should be obvious that demands of this nature cannot be met. Anyone who thinks the country can afford that level of spending — $50 billion — simply wouldn’t be realistic.

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