Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: On Thursday 24th January 2019 the New Democratic Party (NDP) met with the Executive of the Public Service Union (PSU) at Democrat House, the Party’s Headquarters, located at Murray’s Road, Kingstown. The Union’s delegation was led by President Mr. Elroy Boucher and included 1st Vice President Leroy James, 2nd Vice President and PRO Javelle Frank, General Secretary Phillip Bailey, Grievance Officer Kenson King and Women Representatives Desrita Gilkes.
The meeting was convened at the invitation of the Leader of the Opposition and Party President, Dr. the Hon. Godwin Friday who requested the meeting with the Union to learn firsthand about the issues it was seeking to discuss with the government, as employer, on behalf of its members. Other NDP parliamentarians and senior party members present at the meeting included Member for East Kingstown and former Leader of the Opposition and President of the NDP the Hon. Arnhim Eustace and Member for Central Kingstown and NDP Vice-President, Major the Hon. St. Clair Leacock and Member for West Kingstown, the Hon. Daniel Cummings.
Matters discussed at the meeting included salaries, promotions and the absence of collective bargaining between the government and the union. Specially, the Union noted its request that SVG ratifies ILO Convention 151which addresses protection of the right of public sector workers to organise and procedures for determining conditions of employment in the Public Service. The Union stated its disappointment with the government’s failure to engage in meaningful discussions with it to lead to a collective agreement. The union urged the Opposition to support its call for a return to collective bargaining as a means of addressing concerns of public sector workers.
The NDP notes that the failure of the ULP government to engage in collective bargaining over the years must be of great concern to all Vincentians, particularly where the last negotiated salary increases for public sector workers took place in 1999 some 20 years ago under an NDP administration. In fact, all salary increases under the ULP government have been legislated. The NDP considers it a disgrace that a Government which considers itself a labor friendly government would intentionally obstruct and disregard the collective bargaining process. The government should engage in respectful and good-faith negotiations with the public sector workers.
Dr. Friday urged the Union leaders to be true to their members and to represent their interests first. Dr. Friday also assured the Union leaders that he and the Opposition would remain engaged in the process and would seek further consultation with them.
The NDP considers the imposition of a 1% salary increase by the Government as an insult and affront to the Union and that it demonstrated a lack of good faith and open disregard to the Unions and the bargaining process. In this matter the NDP stands firmly behind the unions in their efforts to represent their members.