The offer of a two per cent increase in pay to public servants over an eight-year period is effectively undermining national security, said the president of the Prison Officers Association Ceron Richards while delivering a letter to the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Daryl Dindial at his Port of Spain office on Thursday.
“In my view they (government) are undermining the security of TT by demotivating the whole class of workers dedicated to securing the country,” Richards said.
He said prison officers gave their best during the covid19 pandemic to ensure that the state was protected from criminal elements despite facing several challenges.
“A number of prison officers were brutally gunned down, murdered and threatened. Just yesterday, a prison officer was attacked and his fiancée was shot. They tried to assassinate another prison officer. But the Minister of Finance and, by extension, the Government is not appreciative of that.”
At the CPO’s office on Alexandra Street, Port of Spain, Richards was joined by Fire Services Association president Leo Ramkissoon, who said the offer of a two per cent increase was not only an insult but an assault on the fire and prisons officers.
“The market shift from what we understand is above 14 per cent for the 2014 to 2016 period,” he said. “From what we have obtained we know that it is well over 11 per cent. So obviously coming with such an unreasonable and absurd position would have angered the membership from the start.”
On Thursday last, Dindial in response to trade unions’ proposals for payments to public servants over the 2014 to 2022 period, offered no increase for the period 2014 to 2017, a one per cent increase for 2018, no increase for 2019 to 2020 and a one per cent increase for 2021 – a total of two per cent.
This offer was made to the hourly, daily and weekly paid workers of the central government, the Tobago House of Assembly and employees at municipal corporations.
Along with the offer, the CPO offered new allowances including special allowances for emergency medical technicians (EMT) and community police.
On Tuesday, the Finance Minister said in a tweet that the increases offered by the CPO would cost the country $350 million in back pay and another $300 million annually. He said on Wednesday that a five per cent increase would cost $9.15 billion. Dindial said in a release on Wednesday that the negotiations are continuing.
The National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW) called on government workers to stay away from work and come out in a mass protest through the capital on Wednesday. On Thursday in a release the national Trade Union Centre (NATUC) said that police gave permission to stage a peaceful demonstration on Friday to express its dissatisfaction of the wage offer. The demonstration marches off from Memorial Park in Port of Spain and ends at the Eric Williams Financial Complex (Central Bank) on Independence Square.
“NATUC views the Rowley-led government proposal as an act of economic violence and an abuse against all government employees and therefore unreservedly state that the offer is insensitive, misdirected, confrontational and counterproductive,” NATUC said.