ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, November 15, 2019 (CMC) – The Grenada government says it has reached an agreement with the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), providing for a four percent increase in salaries for teachers, over the period 2020-22.
A government statement said that the agreement was signed, on Wednesday, by representatives of the Government’s Negotiating Team (GNT) and the GUT and that the increases when compounded, amounts to approximately 12.5 percent.
“The agreement was reached after intense, but cordial, discussions. Both parties have expressed satisfaction that the negotiations were conducted, amicably,” the statement noted.
It quoted Trade, Industry, Cooperatives and CARICOM Affairs Minister, Oliver Joseph, who also led the GNT, as saying that “the agreement reached with the GUT illustrates government’s willingness to negotiate in good faith”.
The statement said that the GUT’s negotiating team also welcomed the settlement, saying it was fair and reasonable in the current economic circumstances.
“The GNT revealed that the cost of salary increases amounts to EC$43.5 million, over the three-year period. In addition to the financial implications of the settlement with the GUT, the GNT noted that government will see a significant increase in personnel-related costs, with effect from January, 2020, as the state is expected to pay an additional one percent to the NIS (National Insurance Scheme) on behalf of each worker.
“This effectively amounts to a five percent increase for 2020. Further to this, all retired members of the GUT will have their pensions increased by four percent, from January 1, 2020,” the statement said, noting that “this agreement with the GUT comes at an enormous cost to the taxpayers of the country”.
The GUT is one of three trade unions, representing more than 6,000 public servants. The joint negotiations, between the GNT and the Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), have been declared deadlocked, after the third rounds of talks.
In the statement, the government noted that in reaching the agreement with the GUT, it also had to satisfy “the primary expenditure rule, which has been yielding tremendous results for the country”.
The Fiscal Responsibility Law mandates that the government’s wage bill cannot exceed nine percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in any year, while the primary expenditure rule says that the government cannot exceed two percent more than the previous year.
Joseph, had earlier claimed that the unions were insisting on a near 25 percent increase in pay, without “providing a shred of written justification for their demands”.
But in a statement, the PWU said that despite the failure of the GNT to deliver on its promise to return to the bargaining table with a revised salary proposal, the unions, including the TAWU, “offered a new, revised proposal to the GNT, scaling back on its original proposal for salary increases for the period 2020-22″.
“The unions have, therefore, revised its original proposals of seven and eight percent for 2020 to 2022, respectively, to reflect an improved proposal for the three year period as follows: 2020 — 6.5 per cent; 2021 — 7.5 per cent; and 2022 — eight percent”, and had proposed a meeting with the GNT.