Teachers and public officers remain on strike tonight. They continue to fight against corruption and for good governance. The BNTU, APSSM, and the PSU want a better compensation package for their members who every single day since continue to be docked. The government has made its final proposal but the Joint Unions are calling on the government to return to the negotiating table. The ten percent however is off the table as that ship has sailed. In his political opinion, Opposition Leader Patrick Faber says that a UDP government would have never cut the salaries of teachers and public officers.
Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition: “Back then the UDP administration did not see a light at the end of the tunnel but nonetheless made a decision to keep paying the public servants and the teachers and so you can tell from that that we never have supported cutting the salaries of teachers just like that and public servants and in fact we would have kept that going while looking at some of the other areas of recovery. And you know I said it in the budget debate, my presentation at that time, that I really believe the recovery plan of the Prime Minister those four pillars are very good you know. The problem is that the People’s United Party does not have any credibility and it is plain this is why the unions don’t believe in them. They have no credibility in accomplishing those other pillars of recovery. A United Democratic Party government would have been much better suited to deal with those goals of the recovery plan. As you said it’s no different from what we presented in our recovery plan. Remember when Minister Tracey Panton at the time presented along with a few others in the government the government’s economic recovery plan for this pandemic and beyond and it is some of the very same things but the difference is the political will and the political capital with those who can help us like the bond holders and the IFIs the would have had greater confidence in a UDP government.”
Reporter: You were education minister would you say that the moment for the unions, particularly the BNTU to stop the salary cut has passed ? That it should have been before the budget was passed in the National Assembly ?
Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition: “Well I think the government played a dicey game there in putting off things trying to convince the unions, the BNTU included, that they were going to consult. I think they were new in their administration and probably the unions thought that things had changed with them only to find out later on that it is the same old same old game. So yes you could say that those kinds of demands ought to have been made before the presentation of the budget but I don’t think it’s a lost cause.”
Reporter: Would you have given up all your allowances ?
Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition: “Well yes. The allowances in light of the fact that so many have lost their jobs and in so far as this is what is needed for the country to go on and as a matter of empathizing and being in solidarity with those who have to take the plunge so to speak, in light of the fact a well that all other measures are being done simultaneously to curtail the extent of time for instance that we would have to make such sacrifices then yes.”
Faber went on to explains how a UDP government would have dealt with the financial crisis that the country if currently facing.
Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition: “Well the reason we’re against it is of course you know as we said time and time again it doesn’t make the right sense. How is it that you’re going to cut the disposable income of the people who are spending to keep the economy afloat basically. The public servants are those that get their monies, they don’t save a whole lot because they are spending their disposable income and if you want the economy to rebound that is who you leave with money so that they’re able to put it back into the economy. Cutting their salaries is not going to fix that, we’re beyond that. The situation is that the unions simply do not believe that a 10% cut or the increment freeze situation is going to help in the longer run if the government is not able to get a handle on the other pillars of recovering the economy. Remember what the Prime Minister said first restructuring the debt which they seem to be failing at. The other two pillars are cutting spending and we see where they have been very rampant with this hiring people left right and center at astronomical pay salaries. And then the other one is of course revenue collection and while they’ve given great lip service to collecting outstanding taxes and so on we see no concrete measures in trying to get all of this done. So when the unions look at the situation and look at the recovery cutting in spending in terms of the salaries, cutting expenditure in other areas, raising revenue and restructuring the debt government failed on all the other points so how can they demand this cut from the public servants because this is what they want to know. So I stand with the teachers and the public servants as you know. The opposition UDP does because that to us is not the solution to recover the economy and the government seems to merely be giving lip service to the other economic recovery pillars that it has stated in its agenda.”