Teachers union readies to benefit from concessions

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The union, which represents the interests of most public school teachers, is making attempts to ensure that its members are able to benefit from a number of concessions laid out in the 2017 Budget.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne outlined that import duty and the Revenue Recovery Charge (RRC) will be waived for public servants who import their vehicles.
President of the Antigua & Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) Ash-worth Azille said the union will be engaging the ministry in dialogue to find out how teachers can benefit.
“We have to engage the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the promises that are being made can in fact be fulfilled. And, so, in short order, we will be engaging the ministry so that our membership can capitalise on it as soon as possible.”
Public servants are also to receive a $10,000 grant to assist with their equity
contribution if they are purchasing houses through the National Housing and Renewal Company Limited.
Public servants who construct homes or undertake home renovations will also receive duty-free concessions on building materials.
In addition to the perks which were promised for public servants, the nation’s leader also revealed that government’s negotiating team will be reconstituted this year.
The team will be tasked with the responsibility of commencing discussions with the bargaining units for the various segments of the public service to
arrive at satisfactory and fiscally sustainable way forward.
While acknowledging that this process does not mean salary adjustments will be made this year, Azille said it is a good sign that a team will be formulated to interface with the unions.
“That will signal for us that there is a certain degree of seriousness about engaging trade unions. We are never thrilled when an effort is just made to give something. We prefer to negotiate,” Azille said.
Meantime, the teacher’s union boss was skeptical about an employee incentive programme which will also be created to reward top-performing public servants.
He said such programmes should be handled cautiously.
“This is something that we would want to approach very cautiously to ensure that no category of worker is disenfranchised as a result of it,” Azille said.

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