It appears that the long running dispute over wage increases between the Dominica Public Services Union (DPSU) and the Government is coming to an end.
Speaking on state-owned DBS Radio on Friday morning, general secretary of the DPSU, Thomas Letang, said the executive of the union met with the government’s negotiating team on Tuesday and the 1.5 percent increase suggested for 2011/2012 was accepted.
The only task that remains is to recommend to the general membership of the union that the agreement be accepted by all.
“We are hoping that in the next couple days we would have what we believe would be a fair response by our members and that we can close the deal,” he said.
The DPSU and the government have been at loggerheads for months over wage increases with the union even threatening to call a general strike if its demands, which included a 3 percent increase for 2011/2012, are not met.
Friday’s announcement by Letang appears to be a softening of the union’s stance and according to the general secretary, a number of factors were taken into consideration before accepting the government’s offer. “We looked at the fact that we were able to get the government to move from zero in the final year to 1.5, we looked at the fact that a number of non- salary benefits were paid to public officers,” he said.
Letang said some of the non-salary benefits the union was able to work out with the government for public servants include low interest rates for mortages, duty free concessions for traveling officers, and a contribution to an education fund for public officers.
“We looked at the fact that we were able to bring back to the negotiating table the proposal that government contributes to the medical fund for public officers… that was brought back to the table and it was very successful,” the DPSU boss pointed out.
Another factor taken into consideration, according to Letang, was the outcome of going to arbitration, a move that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had threatened if a deal could not be reached between the union and government.”We spent a lot of time looking at the possible implication or outcome of going to arbitration,” he noted.
Letang stated that after looking at all the different factors, the executive thought it would be in the best interest of everyone to recommend to the union’s general membership that the government’s offer be accepted.
“We have been in contact with our members through various means … and also the fact that a number of public officers are coming to us, telling us that they believe we can close the deal,” he said. “Based on all those things we are now recommending to our general membership that we accept this latest offer.”