Saint Lucia’s umbrella Trade Union Federation (TUF) is unhappy that the government toed what it described as the hard line on the issue of tax free retroactive salaries for union members.
“It will be remiss of me if I did not indicate our displeasure with the hard line taken by the employer not to award us the retroactive pay tax free, in an environment where we know that big business get all sorts of tax breaks,” TUF President Julian Monrose declared Tuesday.
He spoke as six trade unions signed two collective agreements with the government, bringing an end to what was dubbed – long and difficult negotiations.
“This journey was difficult. We experienced hardships; we experienced what we thought was an attitude by the employer not to negotiate in good faith,” Monrose observed.
He stated that it was sad that the collective tax on the retroactive pay amounted to less than 1 million dollars and the employer said no to that.
“That’s a travesty,” Monrose, who is also President of the Saint Lucia Teachers’ Union told Tuesday’s signing ceremony.
“The people we represent here today are persons who have made tremendous sacrifices for the state at times when it has been very difficult and the least they expected was that as things began to look up, that the employer would have recognised that contribution and would have made the bargaining process a little less difficult,” he said.
Nevertheless, Monrose expressed the view that the leadership of the various public sector unions stood up and represented their members with honour, while carrying out their historical role to ensure members got a fair deal.
“We are leaving these negotiations satisfied to some extent, but we still believe better could have been done,” he declared.
The TUF leader expressed the hope that after such a long and difficult journey, the employer would show a willingness to act in good faith and ensure trade union members receive their pay by August 2019.
He pledged the cooperation of the unions in the continuing effort at national development.
At Tuesday’s ceremony the six unions signed two agreements that include salary increases of two percent for the period 2016-2019 and 4 percent for 2019-2022, plus fringe benefit increases.