Prime Minister Reiterates the need for Social Justice for all and outlines potential Impact of Acceding to Uinons demand of 25% Gratuity

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 12:40 PM- George's, Grenada
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November 27, 2018 –
Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell has reiterated
that Government must hold true to the principle of social justice for all.

Speaking against the backdrop of pension negotiations in which the public sector trade unions and staff associations are seeking an advanced pension payment of gratuity of 25%, Dr. Mitchell said, “There is one national pie and it is Government’s duty to share it among all its citizens, not just those who work in the public service.”

Dr. Mitchell first raised the issue of social justice for all in relation to the pension dispute when
he delivered the 2019 Budget last Wednesday.

He said then, “My Government must apply the principles of universal social conscience and social justice for all. We cannot give all the resources of the state to those who have a voice and are represented by trade unions. We have to look after the welfare of the thousands of working people who are not organised and
have no voice.”

In a national address on Monday, Dr. Mitchell again spoke of social justice for all. He said, “We will be judged by the fight we fight for the least among us – those without the power or the confidence to champion their own worthy cause.”

The Prime Minister added, “For a nation would not be worthy to hang on to its soul, if we do not take into consideration the most vulnerable among us and the interest of the generation to come, in every decision that we make.”

Elaborating on the affordability of the unions’ demand for 25% gratuity in the current construct, the Prime Minister said, “it means that we will have to find an average of about $21 million annually for what is, in effect, a loan to public sector workers who have been employed in the period post February 22, 1985 and December 31, 2018.”

Dr. Mitchell further noted that this figure does not include workers who are not confirmed to established positions in the public service.

“Now when we come to negotiate for these other workers that figure will balloon into an even greater amount which will further undermine Government’s ability to pay, bearing in mind that there are many others depending on us for social justice.

Dr. Mitchell pointed out the potential repercussions of acceding to the demand for 25% gratuity in the current construct. He noted that in addition to breaching the Fiscal Responsibility Act, it will cause the country to lose close to $100 million in potential funding.

“It will plunge the country into economic crisis. It will create hardships for the people seeking housing assistance, part-time jobs, assistance with tuition and other academic expenses, the Imani trainees; people who depend on social services including our elders who have served their country well.

How can that be socially just?”

Meanwhile, the Government’s Pension Engagement Committee and the trade union and staff associations have agreed to return to the negotiating table. Agreement was reached at a meeting today.

Negotiations will resume on December 7, 2018.




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