Gov’t pledges public sector wage increase this year

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Information Minister Melford Nicholas (File photo)
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By Kadeem Joseph

[email protected]

Public servants are being assured that there will be an increase in their pay before the end of 2022.

The commitment came from Cabinet spokesperson Melford Nicholas who addressed a recent appeal from the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers for an increase in educators’ wages.

“I think it is going to be left up to the Minister of Education to resume that level of engagement with respect to the overall pay package for teachers which are a part of the Civil Servants Emoluments package,” he told yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.  

“In the Budget presentation this year, the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance did undertake to ensure that public servants are going to be in receipt of an increase … we are hoping to pay an increase to public servants across the board by the end of the year and teachers will be included.”

Nicholas said that the Minister of Education, Daryll Matthew, is “equipped” to engage on the matter with a view to raising it in Cabinet for a final determination.       

Earlier this year, the government was criticised by the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union and the United Progressive Party, as well as the Democratic National Alliance and other trade unionists, for failing to convene the minimum wage committee — which should meet every two years — since taking office.

Minister of Labour Steadroy Benjamin convened the committee in late February and consultations are underway. The current EC$8.20 per hour minimum wage has been unchanged since 2015.

Minister Nicholas said, however, a wage increase for public sector workers will come even without a final determination by the latter committee.

“One will expect that in the first instance we will get to a degree of finalisation of the negotiations but, failing that, the government is committed to ensure that public servants enjoy an increase by the end of the year, one way or another,” Nicholas added.

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