Workers reject 50 percent Cola payment

POSTED: 08/28/13 3:14 PM

GREAT BAY- Civil servants and teachers have now expressed the desire to have the complete payment of their cost of living adjustment (Cola) indexed to their salaries, following a general membership meeting last week.
The workers who fall under the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) and the Windward Islands Civil Servants Union (WICSU) say they have waited long enough, and government has a responsibility to make sure that the full payment, which is in line with a 4.6 percent rise in cost of living, is handed to them. The government had already indicated earlier this year that only 50 percent of the Cola could be realized this year and a figure amounting to 2.3 percent of cost of living should have been injected in the 2013 Budget before it was scrapped when the National Alliance-led government fell in April.
First vice president of the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions (WICLU) Claire Elshot, who also head the teachers union reported on the outcome of the meeting during WICLU’s weekly press briefing.
“The discussion point and objective of that meeting was for us to get a clear mandate on what our members really and truly wanted with regards to the Cola. The main option was whether our members would support the call of 50 percent of the 4.6 as a lump sum payment or would our members want the full payment indexed to their basic salary. The overwhelming response was that our membership would like to have their complete, full Cola and have it indexed to their salary, despite the fact that the prime minister has been indicating that this manner would not be sustainable for the future.”
Any changes to the law on the Cola system must be discussed with the unions first, she added.
“The point of our membership, which they fully support our argument was that any discussion or any change or amendments to the law as it pertains to our Cola would have to be discussed and agreed upon between government and unions, all parties, before taking effect. They rightfully indicated that this is something owed to them and therefore once the budget is passed they would also like for the union to stress that they would like to have it retroactively back to January 2013.”
Elshot said that workers made it clear that any mishap of government is no fault of theirs.
“It is the government’s responsibility to have included that full amount in the budget. It is their responsibility to make sure that the budget is approved in a timely fashion and that the payment is also done in a timely fashion,” the union leader stated.
The unions are expected to meet with government in the Organized Consultative Body (GOA) tomorrow at the invitation of the government. Elshot said that a white paper will be prepared in anticipation of the meeting.

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