KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves says while he is not prepared to close the door on any proposal he is not going to negotiate in public with the President of the Public Service Union (PSU), Elroy Boucher, over an EC$500 bonus to lower-salaried workers whose wages will not be impacted significantly by a new collective agreement.
Last Tuesday, the PSU, as well as the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Teachers’ Union and the Police Welfare Association told reporters they were satisfied with the seven per cent salary increase for workers over a three-year period.
Under the agreement, the workers will receive a 2.5 per cent increase in 2023, followed by a two per cent and 2.5 per cent hike in the years 2024 and 2025.
The unions said they were also pleased that the government has decided to increase the tax threshold from EC$20 000 to EC$22 000.
“I want to particularly ask the government, there are two brackets of workers, those within the public service … who make less than $22,000 per year that the increase itself is hardly going to touch them. It’s minimal, because they’re not paying taxes already. Their salaries are very small,” said.
“It was our hope that at least the government might’ve been able to give them a bonus or something; something to offset … whatever economic pressures they are on, because they will not benefit as much as all of the other workers who are benefiting. I think that is still possible,” he added.
“Let’s say, make an independence speech, and announce that, or even Christmas,” Boucher said.
But Gonsalves, who said he is “not closing the door on anything suggested”, told reporters that the EC$500 bonus was not part of the proposal that the three labour organisations made to the government.
He said further that minimum wage did not form part of the union’s proposal during the recent wage negotiations, “and because it didn’t form part of their proposals, and because it didn’t form part of our proposals, the proposal has not been costed. (CMC)