Former trade union leader, Kingsley St Hill, has come out in support of the Trade Union Federation’s rejection of a government offer of a lump sum payment for its members.
“I support them totally,” St Hill said in an interview with St Lucia Times Friday.
He recalled that recently, then Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Doctor Ubaldus Raymond, had asserted that this country was making economic gains under the administration of Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet.
St Hill told St Lucia Times that in the nineteen nineties, the Saint Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA), of which he was once President, had an issue with the government of then Prime Minister Doctor Kenny Anthony.
He explained that the government had just given civil servants a bonus because the economy was doing well.
“But then when it came to negotiations, they wanted to offer zero percent,” the former trade union leader stated.
“My position and that of my executive was that we would go to arbitration,” St Hill explained.
He asserted that government ministers make pronouncements about an upturn in the economy.
“Then clearly the workers are entitled to some of it,” the former CSA president declared.
He expressed the view that the payment of a lump sum does not help workers when it comes to their pensions or gratuity.
“When you take a lump sum, that is one-off – your salary will remain the same, so for the next three years you have the same salary. But if you have say – a two percent increase for the next three years it is more beneficial for the employee,” St Hill argued.
He told St Lucia Times that trade unions exist to protect the rights of workers and look after their terms and conditions of employment.
“When the employer is making profits, it must be shared,” St Hill said.
He spoke against the backdrop of reports that the umbrella Trade Union Federation (TUF) has accused the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) of failing to specify the lump sum amount.
The TUF in December issued official notice of its membership’s overwhelming decision to reject the undisclosed money offer, it was reported.
The offer was linked to salary negotiations for the 2016-2019 period.