‘We are still trying to get an agreement with the union, a consensus for in best interest of all,” said Joseph.
The Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and the Public Workers Union (PWU), two of the unions that represent government workers are schedule to meet with their membership this week to discuss the matter.
Joseph said that while the Dr. Keith Mitchell government has given the assurance there would be no job losses as a result of retrenchment once the programme goes into effect, the promise can only be a reality if the unions accept the wage freeze.
“If the government was to go ahead and sign without an assurance from the union that there will be no increase in salaries for the period of the three year programme which commence officially as of January 1, 2014, then government will have to use the option of retrenching workers in order to reduce on Government monthly wage bill,” he said during Tuesday’s post Cabinet news conference.
“This is not a threat…we are not coercing anyone, what we are expressing is real facts,” said Education Minister Anthony Boatswain, who explained that if government don’t go through with the structural adjustment programme there would be some uneasiness with regards to the social and economic development of Grenada.
“If we don’t go through with the programme it will be total chaos. We will have a country to run with no money,” he said while explaining that once the letter of intent is sign with the IMF government will receive grants and other financial and technical support from institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Union and the World Bank.”
Pleading for all the relevant stakeholders to join in the efforts to re-organise the island’s fiscal situation, Boatswain, a former finance minister, said that there was need for every too contribution towards solving the problem.
“This is a national issue, it’s not a polarize issue, it’s not a yellow or Green issue, its national issue that needs national attention,” he said.
Last week, President of the Grenada Trades Union Congress (TUC), Madonna Harford, raised issues with the manner in which the government was going ahead with the strategy.
“You freezing salaries for three years, the public worker above EC$3,000 (One EC Dollar = US$0.37 cents) would have to pay income tax. So no increase, income tax, then you have increases in user fees, properties etc, so in the long run the public sector worker would be at a serious disadvantage,” Harford said.
The trade union official admitted that while Grenada was not isolated from the impact of the global economic and financial crisis, “the fact remains that somehow…decisions that would have not been very good or wise decisions coming back to haunt us right now.”
Late last year, Prime Minister Mitchell told nationals that while the international community was willing to restructure the island’s debt, the country would have to make sacrifices.
Mitchell, whose New National Party (NNP) came to office in February last year, said Grenada was unable to pay its creditors and was seeking the assistance of the international community to restructure its debt.
Since then there have been several activities aimed at finding a solution to restructuring the debt that is estimated at more than two billion EC dollars (One EC Dollar = US$0.37 cents)
The government has appointed the London-based White Oak Advisory, which describes itself as an independent financial advisory firm providing specialist, high-level and impartial advice to governments and other clients on matters relating to sovereign finances and sovereign debt, to advise it.