West: Progress being made towards back pay

Public Administration Minister Allyson West.
Public Administration Minister Allyson West.

PUBLIC Administration Minister Allyson West on Monday sought to assure that progress is being made towards keeping Government's commitment to give public servants their back pay by Christmas.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert gave this commitment when he presented the 2023/2024 budget in Parliament on October 6.

He reiterated it during a recent virtual news conference.

West said that the various agencies are working on the computations, and additional resources have been loaned to the Ministry of Education, in particular, to assist in this exercise.

During his briefing, Imbert said that a permanent secretary in that ministry had indicated a challenge in paying back pay to public servants.

At a previous post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, the Prime Minister expressed concern that a permanent secretary in a government ministry said that back pay to public servants in that ministry could not happen until next May.

At his briefing, with reference to the Education Ministry, Imbert said, “Calculations have to be done for every single worker, teachers in this case. You have to look at their payment record going back to 2014 and calculate the amount of back pay that is due to them for each teacher. Each one of those calculations has to be audited. Then a payment file is created with all 17,000 teachers, and that is sent to the treasury so it could be paid by Christmas 2023.”

He said the Defence Force has already been paid. He said close to September, 30 representatives of the Defence Force sought and obtained approval and received funding to pay the officers.

“So the Defence Force gone clear already,” he said.

He noted that the payment was limited to those public-sector organisations who, through their unions, accepted the four per cent increase offer made by the government in June 2022. The unions that accepted represented the defence force, which included the Army, Coast Guard and Air Guard; the Fire Services Association; the Prison Services Association; and the TT Unified Teachers Association.

“The Public Servants’ Association (PSA) and the trade union that represents daily-paid workers, those unions have not accepted the Government’s offer of four per cent,” Imbert said.

As a result, he said, "They don’t fall within the definition of us paying all of the workers whose trade unions accepted the four per cent.”

West said, "The Government of TT is making every effort to ensure that the deadline is met."

She added that some wage negotiations for public servants remain unsettled.

"So the back pay relates to those that have been settled."

In an interview on October 27, West said the matter is administrative and not a financial issue.

She added that Imbert has already indicated that arrangements will be made to source funds to make the back pay.

At his briefing, Imbert said, “We have made a commitment to provide $1 billion in back pay for workers whose trade unions accepted the offer of four per cent."


"West: Progress being made towards back pay"

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