Sunday, April 21, 2024

St Lucia’s PM: No pay cut

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CASTRIES – St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says his administration is not proposing any form of pay cuts to public servants, as it tries to manage the fall out of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the island’s economy.

“The government is honouring its collective agreement,” Chastanet told reporters outside parliament today.

“There’s no cut that is being proposed – we are paying the civil servants their salaries. We are paying the civil servants part in cash and part in bonds.”

Chastanet also disclosed that a decision was made after a meeting with the unions late Monday where it was decided to push back pay that was due on April 23 to April 30 in order to “complete the decision”.

He said the government does not want to impose anything on the unions but desires a collective decision.

“If in any way what the government has proposed is perceived  by anyone as biased or selective, we are prepared to amend wherever possible,” the Prime Minister said.

“What we have realised for some time starting back in March where I have been making pronouncements to the general public and everyone, is we need to get into the idea of rationing,” he stated.

The Prime Minister asserted that this is not an ordinary time as he detailed the government’s current fiscal position against the backdrop of the economic impact of COVID-19.

He said the same way that anyone else would ration, the government has to ration cash.

“This is why we have met with the unions to indicate to them that we do not want to renegotiate our collective agreement, but what we are recommending is that government find a way to convert some of the cash payments into bonds and we are open to any ideas that they have on how to do that.”

He asserted that every single department of government is deserving, while disclosing that over 30 000 St Lucians have lost their jobs.

“They have nobody to appeal to,” he lamented.

He explained that the bill before the house which is meeting here Tuesday was intended to amend the National Insurance Corporation Act.

“NIC was not designed to make payments for income loss, so we are creating an emergency component to NIC to give them the latitude to pump in $100 million to be able to help those people,” Chastanet stated.

He said everyone will have to learn to survive on less.

So far one union, the Police Welfare Association, has announced that it remains resolute in its stance on accepting no cuts or deferments to salaries. It claims that so far the government through its Labour Minister Stephenson King had not presented their body with pertinent facts relating to its inability to meet salary commitments in order to make an informed decision on behalf of its membership on salary adjustments.

(CMC)

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