The Opposition believes Government’s announcement of the start of wage negotiations for public servants is a farce.
Opposition MP Rudranath Indarsingh spoke at the Opposition’s weekly press briefing held at its Charles Street, Port of Spain office.
On April 1, Chief Personnel Officer Commander Dr Daryl Dindial advised that wage negotiations for public servants and their representative unions began on March 28 at the Personnel Department’s Office, Alexandra Street, St Clair, Port of Spain.
The release said Dindial was expected to meet with eleven unions and associations in the coming weeks to engage in negotiations for approximately 90,000 employees in the public service.
Discussions began with the protective services (TT Defence Force, police and fire services) on March 28, the release said,
“Discussions will continue with the unions representing the daily-paid workers on April 4, and the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) on April 7,” it added.
Indarsingh said, “The Prime Minister and his Government, through his Minister of Finance, want to create a feeling of goodwill. A feeling of hope for public servants in TT…”
He warned public servants, workers at state enterprises and local government workers this was the latest act of “deception by the Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance.”
Indarsingh said Dr Rowley knew he was very unpopular and “his popularity is at its lowest ebb and he is attempting to, what I would call buy votes, in the upcoming People’s National Movement (PNM) internal elections and Local Government election which is more or less on the horizon.”
Referencing a release sent by the Public Services Association after meeting with the CPO, Indarsingh said “The release has stated that the CPO’s claim that cost of living allowances will not be consolidated with salaries prior to any increases as it cannot be afforded by the State and if it is to be considered then there will be no negotiation.
“So this is why we in the UNC have come to conclusion that these negotiations have already collapsed. There will be no free, fair and independent collective bargaining because the CPO has already told or indicated that there is a non-negotiable position as it relates to cost of living.”
He said given this it seemed that there was an orchestrated plan by the Government to “drag out” the negotiations.
“It will drag out beyond the PNM’s internal election. It will drag out beyond the Local Government election and knowing Dr Rowley and knowing Colm Imbert, this might drag out beyond a general election too,” he said.