Duke meets Imbert on NIB wage increase, covid19 leave, WASA restructuring

This photo, posted to the Facebook page of Watson Duke, shows the PSA leader, at left, standing next to Finance Minister Colm Imbert following their meeting on Friday at Imbert's office.  -
This photo, posted to the Facebook page of Watson Duke, shows the PSA leader, at left, standing next to Finance Minister Colm Imbert following their meeting on Friday at Imbert's office. -

Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke has proposed several options to Finance Minister Colm Imbert on ways to solve outstanding wage negotiations for National Insurance Board (NIB) employees.

Duke in a live Facebook video, after a meeting with Imbert on Friday, said the minister promised to “get back onto him” on the issues he raised.

These include a nine per cent wage increase from what was agreed upon between the NIB and PSA in 2020. Duke offered the minister the option to start paying the wage increase and deal with arrears to NIB workers after.

“What the minister was trying to do was to convince us that the country is in a bad state as so far as projected revenue on actual revenue. The figures he presented looked scary, it looks bleak, and it looks hopeless.

“But that is the position he wanted to have us in because it allows him to have the upper hand in negotiations. I had to slap in reality and say ‘None of that.’ They know how to manipulate data...”

He said the minister also said he will get back to him by the end of May concerning leave, with full pay, for parents who have no one to look after their children, including others with exceptional circumstances due to covid19 restrictions. He said Imbert told him the matter will be taken to the Cabinet within that month. He said he also put on the table issues over health plans and benefits for PSA members, the allocation of lands, and other outstanding negotiations. All of which, he said, the minister promised to get back to him.

Duke said he further proposed that the minister make a commitment to put a hold on job losses and ensure there is greater collaboration between the Water and Sewage Authority and PSA in its efforts to transform the authority. This too the minister, he said, assured will be responded to.

Duke described the meeting as “respectable” and said he anticipates future monthly meetings with Imbert.

“I want to say to my colleagues out there you have the best union, the best leader, you have nothing to fear. You can go to bed knowing that I will look after your business for you with the same level of sensitivity and alertness.”

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