The union representing the largest body of public servants on the island has accepted the latest government’s wage increase offer of five percent over the last three years.
General secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas Letang, said the offer was accepted after careful analysis and pointed out it is in the best interest of public servants.
The general membership of the union met on Thursday to discuss the matter where the offer was accepted.
“After careful analysis of the situation, we felt that we would accept what was being offered and that is 3, 1 and 1,” Letang said in a live interview with state-owned DBS Radio on Friday morning.
The DPSU and the government have been at odds for months over the the wage increase. The government had initially offered 0, 0, 0 for the time period and it was rejected. Another offer of 1, 0, 0 was also rejected. However, at a Dominica Labour Party (DLP) rally recently Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, announced that the government was in the position to offer 3, 1, 1 due to the intervention of “friendly governments.”
Letang said there were various reasons for accepting the latest offer, including the government’s job classification exercise.
“We are looking at the job classification exercise and one of the things we have realized is out about 350 positions in the public service that were analyzed, more than 200 positions were either downgraded or remained at the same level,” he explained. “So what it means is that people coming into those positions, it is very likely that they will get a reduced salary than what currently exists. Those who are in those positions will not be affected, however if you take a 2 percent salary increase, what it means for those who have not been upgraded, it means that their salary will not be what it is or what it should be as compared to a 5 percent.”
He further explained that those who do not benefit from the classification exercise will at least “have gotten a 5 percent increase on their salary.”
Letang noted that another reason is the fact that within the next six months the DPSU will be engaging government in negotiations again.
“So what it means is that we will have another opportunity, very, very soon, to look at most of the non-salary matters which have been withdrawn,” he stated. “So we will have an opportunity, we will have a chance, to bring that back in the next few months, which is not very, very far away.”
He stated that the union also looked at the 5 percent increase and its “long term effect for public officers.”
“As you are fully aware of, any salary increase would affect your pension and the quantum of gratuity that you would receiving,” Letang said. “So when we looked at this, in comparison to a 2 percent and the immediate implementation of the classification exercise, we thought it was in the best interest of public officers to accept the 3, 1 and 1 and to seek from government a definite time frame within which the classification will be implemented. We believe that this is in the best interest of public officers .”
He said public officers, who attended the meeting in large numbers, understood the situation in full.
“And we have decided to accept the 3, 1 and 1,” Letang said.