CASTRIES, St Lucia, Thursday April 18, 2013 – Civil Servants have ended their battle with government for a 9.5 per cent wage increase, with a stunning decision to settle for a wage freeze.
After a heated extra-ordinary meeting Wednesday most of the over 400 members of the Civil Service Association (CSA) voted in favour of a 0.00 per cent wage proposal.
The decision to forgo the increase followed the President’s report that the Government’s Negotiating Team (GNT) was sticking to 4 per cent as its final wage offer, in addition to refusing the requested allowances.
CSA President Mary Issac said her members were clear that if government insists that it could not afford anything more than 4 per cent then Government could keep its percentage wage increase, and the CSA would only accept the attached conditions proposed by the GNT.
“The members were mindful of the fact that a 4 per cent increase would put most of them into a new tax bracket, where government will simply get back the increase in taxes.
“Government is on one hand pretending to give them something while on the other hand it would be taken away, they are saying they might as well leave it for the state.
“They feel that they have worked hard and deserve more than the four per cent and if that is all government is prepared to give, the members feeling offended and disrespected at that, are now saying let the state keep it,” she added.
Issac said the CSA was especially disappointed in government’s decision not to grant the lowest earning members at grades 1-6, a EC$175 dollar allowance, while acceding to a 100 dollar proposal for Grades 7-18.
She says the move was terribly unfair to the low income earners in light of the increased cost of living, which includes VAT, water rate hikes, and bus fare increases. Issac said even after the CSA revised its position, the proposal was rejected.
However the CSA membership was also clear about accepting the GNT’s proposed conditions outside of the wage increase, for an increase in travel allowance and a review of the pension scheme.
She said the CSA will now write to the GNT expressing the mandate of its members, and Government will have the option to legislate the 4 per cent wage increase across the board since the other public service unions have signed on or they can grant the CSA their request for a wage freeze.