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NUPW’s call to wear black

SHERRYLYN TOPPIN, [email protected]

NUPW’s call to wear black

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It will be a black Friday in the public sector if the latest protest action planned by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) comes to fruition.

According to a memo seen by the MIDWEEK NATION, Government workers are being urged by the union to wear black on Friday to protest the failure of the Freundel Stuart administration to return to the table to negotiate salaries.

It was signed by NUPW general secretary Roslyn Smith and read in part: “Public officers feel that they have earned the right to a salary increase, based on the fact that they have not received one since 2008 and continue to produce at optimum levels.

“To protest Government’s failure to return to the bargaining table and to support public officers in their quest to receive an increase of salary/wages, the union is calling on all workers to wear black on Friday, February 16, 2018. Those in specified uniforms are asked to wear black armbands.”

Efforts to reach Smith yesterday were unsuccessful.

This is the latest form of protest taken by the NUPW since salary negotiations started in January 2016. The union is demanding a 23 per cent increase, but Government has not budged from its zero stance.

A January 15 deadline for a response from the Ministry of the Civil Service was ignored, prompting two days of protests on January 18 and 19. They were largely deemed a failure as it appeared to be business as usual at most Government departments. On that occasion, teachers at Combermere School stayed off the job, but there was no physical support from the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) or the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).

BWU officials said while they supported the call for a wage increase, their demands were different, while CTUSAB said it had no mandate from its members.

And while members of the ruling Democratic Labour Pay acknowledged civil servants deserved a raise, they said it must be tempered by the ability of the ailing economy to sustain it.

During debate on the Appropriation Bill 2018 in the House of Assembly on Monday, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said civil servants would get their increase “at some point in time”, but Government also had to take greater control of its expenses.

“Therefore, in that regard, all sides – Government, private sector and the labour unions – have to be cautious in the demands which are made, recognising it is a fact that public officers are deserving of a salary increase.” (SAT)

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