St Lucia: Public sector unions reject late payment, salary-and-bonds proposal

President of the CSA Cyprian Montrope
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(SNO) – Civil Service Association PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE TO MEMBERS — Members, following from my last communique to you, I wish to bring the following to your attention. Having been involved in four long and intense conversations with the government regarding the fiscal position of the government and the measures which they intend to implement to remedy the situation, our union has been placed in a very peculiar position.

The fact that we are in a partial shutdown and must observe the protocols established by the state with regard to social distancing, has made our ability to meet and discuss pertinent matters about our livelihoods and future extremely challenging.

Our union has finally received proposals from the government. To be precise, we received the proposals on April 19, 2020, at 10:30 p.m. The proposals are as follows: –

– Grades 1 to 6 get their full salary
– Grades 7 to 18 get 50% of their salary and the remaining 50% in bonds
– Grades 19 and above get 25% of their salary and 75% in bonds

Having received this proposal, the executive met on April 20, 2020, to discuss the matter. The executive in their wisdom could not accept such a proposal without first obtaining your approval or counter-proposals.

This decision of the executive was conveyed to the St. Lucia Trade Union Federation (TUF) at a meeting the same day. The TUF adopted the same position as all other unions faced the same predicament.

Later that same day, we met with the government to articulate the position of all the public sector unions on the matter. The government maintained its position and so did all unions.

The government has indicated that they are unable to pay April 2020 salaries on the scheduled payday (April 23) and is suggesting delaying payday to April 30, 2020. The TUF did not agree to that position and asked that salaries be paid April 23, 2020, as per the original schedule.

The meeting ended without any of the unions agreeing to the government’s offer but agreed to continue the conversation on the way forward.

Members, my biggest concern is that given the protocols in place as a result of COVID-19 in relation to social distancing, etc, we are unable to meet you in our usual fashion. I have given considerable thought to the ways in which we can meet our membership in an effort to get your input but have not been able to come up with any viable option. I would, therefore, ask members to suggest innovative ways we can effectively communicate so as to assist in decision-making.

This matter is very serious and our future hinges heavily on the outcome. Your involvement as a general membership is paramount since this decision, in my view, should not be taken by the executive council nor the general council.

I await your urgent response.

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