The Civil Service Association (CSA) was the only trade union movement on the island that was not present for a recent meeting with government officials, called to discuss the fiscal situation on the island, but CSA President Mary Isaac said the move to boycott that meeting was made based on a fact that government has already decided on a five percent cut in public servants salaries.
Isaac told Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) during an interview today, Wednesday, May, 7 that figures in this year’s estimates and expenditure shows that a cut in public servants salaries will take effect soon. She argued that the CSA was never informed about that decision or consulted on the matter.
Isaac further added that the passing of the Appropriation Bill coincided with the CSA elections and the opening of the Jazz Festival.
“Was this all meant to confuse us?” she questioned.
The CSA president said she finds this to be a strange situation, especially since it would have required proper consultation with trade unions on a way forward. She believes that government should have taken time to include trade unions in the discussions first, before any decision was made. She cautioned that same decision could have far-reaching effects.
Isaac explained that this unjustified move comes at a time when citizens are still trying to cope with the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT). The CSA leader believes that the salary cut, will only add greater pressure to the working class and the many persons who are unemployed.
“It will cause more shrinkage … everybody will have less purchasing power… it will cause high inflation and greater unemployment.”
She is advising government to look at other alternatives.
However, the CSA remains adamant that a wage cut will not be forced upon its members. And, while the government has not come out to say that they have included the cuts in this year’s budget or will make such a move, Isaac said that public servants could possibly see a reduction on their salaries. She said once this takes effect, she will make arrangements to meet with the CSA executive and members, to discuss a way forward. This could even lead the union to take strike action.
Meanwhile, Castries South East Member of Parliament Guy Joseph has also accused government of including a five percent wage cut in the budget estimates. He said that this was made evident during that final day of the budget debates and was not originally placed in estimates and expenditure that was presented to members in the House of Assembly.
The MP is calling on government to be more open and tell the working population the truth, as it relates to cuts to their salaries.
The former government minister added that this move could be detrimental to the country and significantly hurt the island’s economy. However, government has stated that because of the economic situation, they must look at options to reduce spending. But, trade unions on the other hand have advised government to look at other alternatives, rather than cutting public servants salaries or a possible retrenchment.
While government has not come out to say whether they have indeed included the cuts in this year’s budget they have proposed this plan to trade unionists at a recent meeting. More than 9000 public servants across the board could be affected by this move, once it takes effect.
The tables below shows a comparison of budget estimates of annual and monthly pay range, over three years.
Budget Estimates-Annual Salaries Pay Range
2011-2012 2013-2014 2014-2015
$11,361.34 to $153,972.00 $11,815.80 to $153,972.00 $11,253.14 to $146,640.00
Budget Estimates –Monthly Salaries Pay Range
2011-2012 2013-2014 2014-2015
$946.78 to $12,831.00 $984.65 to $12,831.00 $937.76 to $12,220.00