Five percent wage increase is an ‘insult’

PM Gaston Browne presented a $1.2b budget for 2018 to a packed Lower House yesterday. (Photo by Kwesi Isles)

The 5 percent wage increase promised to public servants is being described as an “insult,” and the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association is also saying it will make no impact on workers’ lives. The general secretary of the association which represents public sector workers, Sandra Williams, is further accusing Prime Minister Gaston Browne of breaching the Civil Service Act due to the manner in which the pay raise offer was made.

Her first reaction to the five percent increase announced at Thursday’s Budget Presentation was to posit, “Five percent increase is going to take public officers where?” She explained that they’re not satisfied with the increase, even though the prime minister said more is to come, because this is “interim” and “in good faith” pending further negotiations between the government and the unions.

“With an inflation rate of 3.4 and you have Social Security moving from – 2016, 2017, 2018 – up by 2.5 percent, add that to the 3.4 percent of the inflation rate and see where we reach there. Do the math. How can we be happy? It is an insult. It is an insult to public servants,” she said.

Williams said that the prime minister did not follow the procedure when he decided to announce the increase because he, allegedly, failed to consult with the union. According to her, the association submitted a proposal in December, asking for a 33.3 percent increase for some workers; that the minimum pay be moved up from $1,600-plus to $2,500; and for other concessions/benefits. But she said, that as of yesterday, neither the government nor the Establishment Division, which handles hiring and classification of workers, had responded.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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