In our attempt to bring all the facts together, we can tell you that the unions don’t want the salary cut or increment freeze; they want the government to cut the ministers’ allowances and are opposed to any new hirings. But the unions eventually moved the goalposts and began clamoring for an immediate completion of the UNCAC and the implementation of the Whistleblowers’ Legislation. Fast forward today, and the BNTU President is saying that it is not just about the salaries and the legislation.
Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “But remember it’s not just legislation there are other things besides legislations that we had shared with them so that is just one aspect of it but there are several other aspects to our entire discussions.”
Reporter: And you’re saying they must accept all of them for you all to take a salary cut.
Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “No that’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying that whenever you go into negotiations you have your list of demands and so you know what it is are your priority areas and so we are able to move when we get to certain points. We are not able to tell you that at this point in time but there are stages that we have set out as we go through negotiation.”
APSSM’s President Sharon Frazer says that there are some who are understanding of the current economic crisis, but there is the need for policies that will prevent a repeat of unnecessary spending and hirings.
Sharon Fraser, President, APSSM: “There are so many other things that are on the table I don’t want the public to feel that this is simply about pay cuts because it is not that we are not prepared to make sacrifices, in fact the members that have spoken up and I’ve spoken to have indicated that they understand the financial situation that we’re in and they understand that sacrifice has to be made. So it might very well mean that yes there is a cut more than what we are prepared to give up but before we can accept that it means they have to have certain things put in place; the good governance issue so that it shouldn’t be that we’re giving up to go to some new hiree when in fact we had agreed to a moratorium on hiring for example. If the wage bill is too high why are we hiring more people ? So you’re taking away my ten percent to give to some new hiree? I think not. I’m not saying that government should not hire I’m just saying at this point let us see where we are before you take on new people, before you’re adding to the wage bill. That is the position that we’ve been taking because there will be necessary hiring, there will be necessary hiring but it can’t be for example you’re hiring secretaries, the public service is not short on secretaries for example. Every Minister seems to have a communications expert but then you have a press office what is the need for that. If it is they could come and justify why it is these people are there you won’t have any fight you know because they are necessary hiring but you can’t take away from me and then you are hiring at the same time that does not make sense.”