By Latrishka Thomas
Public servants who were looking forward to receiving a salary increase by the end of the year received some disappointing news yesterday.
In October, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that public servants would be receiving a long-awaited salary increase – and the corresponding back pay dating back some years – no later than December. But in Parliament on Thursday, Browne disclosed that workers may not receive the additional monies in full until 2023.
“We indicated that we would do our endeavour best to pay the back pay before the end of the year. We had hoped too that we could agree on an increase. Unfortunately, those negotiations are protracted,” he said.
“I can’t say with a definitive position or certainty that it would happen by the end of the year because at the end of the day negotiations that we expected to have been concluded weeks ago have not happened, so we may have to have a fall-back position to probably pay a part of the percentage increase possibly before the end of the year.”
Cabinet spokesperson Information Minister Melford Nicholas had told Thursday’s post-Cabinet press briefing a few minutes’ earlier that, based on discussions, public servants should receive “at least 50 percent of their current monthly salary as a contribution towards the eventual back pay” by the end of the year”.
Browne, however, told the House of Representatives that the government is still looking for a fair solution.
“The increase is always retroactive so workers will not lose anything if it protracts into 2023. What I recognise however…is that some individuals are looking for some level of back pay and that matter is being actively discussed by the Cabinet to determine how we satisfy without undermining the negotiations and at the same time keep workers happy,” Browne, who is also the finance minister, added.
Government workers are owed several years’ worth of back pay having been owed a wage increase since before the Covid-19 pandemic.