Following an afternoon meeting yesterday, union executives are drafting counter proposals and examining those presented by government yesterday as they relate to a cut in salaries for public officers and teachers. It is anticipated that the cut would be implemented at the start of the new fiscal year on April 1. News Director Renee Trujillo has been following the story. We now join her for that story.
Renee Trujillo, Love FM News: Less than twenty four hours after the municipal elections government ministers sat with union executives proposing a cut in public officers salaries for the upcoming fiscal year. The proposal shows that the cut would be implemented for three years in an effort to bridge an $80 million dollar deficit which would reportedly aid in restoring a somewhat stable economic outlook for the country. The meeting took an estimated four hours and according to the First Vice President of the Public Service Union, Dean Flowers, government workers may be looking at a 10% cut.
Dean Flowers, First Vice President, Public Service Union: “If you look at the budget numbers and as well as the expected outturn where wages and emoluments is concerned it would be safe for me to say that it’s 10%. It’s a 10% salary cut that is being proposed.”
Renee Trujillo, Love FM News: A letter dated March 5 from the Ministry of Finance to the union members has noted that the cut in salaries will provide an estimated $60 million dollar reprieve annually for the government. Vice President Dean Flowers told Love News that they’re awaiting additional information from the ministry after which they will be engaging the union’s three thousand plus members. He added that the cut in salaries will not only hamper the affected households but could potentially harm the private sector.
Dean Flowers, First Vice President, Public Service Union: “We will be receiving the information that they committed to providing to us where the wage bands are concerned on Monday, thereafter we will engage in a comprehensive analysis of this and how this could affect our members and what we can put in place to mitigate any negative impact- I mean any impact will be negative that goes without saying even though there also exists the possibility that any such cut across the board could in fact take certain individuals out of a certain income tax or Social Security contribution bracket. So the implications as a result of this proposal is far reaching. I am hoping that the government has themselves considered the negative impact that this could have on their revenues and on Social Security contributions as well as of course the spending power and the kind of liquidity that will be taken out of the system as a result of this.”
Renee Trujillo, Love FM News: For the Association of Public Service Senior Managers President Sharon Frazer told Love News that the union will be going back to its membership to get their feedback. She says it is unfortunate that letter from the government was leaked prior to the union members being duly notified.
Sharon Frazer, President, Association of Public Service Senior Managers: “We had asked them to go back and look at the cost savings and the revenue enhancement recommendations that were made by the unions to the government for them to revisit those to see once it is we could envision savings it would mean that it would further cut the $60 million dollar wage deficit that exists. We are mindful of the fact that that is there but we still feel that there are some other things that can be done before we even touch cutting salaries. And once it is they have looked at those other things then if it’s inevitable, that is if it is inevitable, then we were saying rather than it be a done deal as far as 10% over three years we had asked that it be – if it is that it needs to be done look at it after the first year so we were throwing out some ideas of what they could look at. No decisions have been taken as it relates to any of these since the ministers were informed that we needed to go back and do consultation with our members as it relates to this proposal.”
Renee Trujillo, Love FM News: While Financial Secretary Joseph Waight would not get into the details of yesterday’s meeting he would only say that there is cooperation on both sides.
Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary: “Yes there will be some reductions and of course the unions are pointing out areas in the public service where they think we can find cost savings as well so it’s an amicable, it’s a joint relationship.”
Renee Trujillo, Love FM News: For senior officers in the public service they are possibly facing an additional cut in allowances. Consultations will be taking place in the coming days as a final agreement is needed in time for the budget presentation and the start of the new fiscal year.