OBA critical of lack of progress on civil service pay agreement

Four months into its financial year, Government is yet to agree a pay packet with its workers.

And the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance says that’s a sign of Government indecision and leadership failure.

Bermuda Bermuda Trade Union Congress President Shine Hayward confirmed that his union is still waiting for Government’s final say since the unions responded to its pay and pension contributions cut offer.

“The ball is in government’s hands right now,” he said.

Government has been hoping to realise about $60 million in savings this financial year by freezing pensions contributions and imposing a matching pay cut for its 8000 workers.

While the unions involved appeared willing to go for the deal when it was proposed earlier this year, negotiations hit a snag when it emerged that the Police Association could not, for legal reasons, agree to it.

The unions had agreed that the deal could only go ahead if all public workers were involved.

Mr Hayward said yesterday that he is still hopeful that the unions “might be able to assist” Government.

Bob Richards, Shadow Finance Minister said he found the lack of progress “interesting and disconcerting”.

“The government said it was going to do something and hasn’t done it,” Mr Richards said.

“ I don’t know what the deal is here but it is somewhat disconcerting when you go thorough the trouble of trying to rein in government expenses and you don’t have the testicular fortitude to go through with it“I believe the budget that was set in February/March was predicated on some savings in this area and the fact that it hasn’t come to pass yet is just interesting and disconcerting. I just wonder where the leadership is.”

He added: “We just can’t keep drifting and non decisions being made.

“We have to be decisive in order to change course here. We’re not seeing that, we’re just drifting, it speaks to indecisiveness and lack of leadership. We just can’t do nothing and expect things to change.”

The Bermuda Public Services Union had a general membership meeting in June to consider the Government’s position and reported back to the Bermuda Trade Union Congress.

Charlie Swan, a United Bermuda Party MP, said: “It behoves government to come forward with what they would like to do.

“If what they’ve proposed comes even close to what the BPSU has proposed to them.”

He added that Government should also come up with its plan to address an underfunded pension fund.

“The fund is underfunded as it is. That will be a concern to all the unions — are their pensions secure?

“If part of government’s plan is to address that. How? There’s no way they can address it now because they are trying to save money in their budget.

“I would be waiting with bated breath to see the state of the pension fund at the end of the year.”

Government debt is just $30 million shy of the debt ceiling which was revised upwards to $1.45 billion in March.

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Published Aug 14, 2012 at 8:53 am (Updated Aug 14, 2012 at 8:53 am)

OBA critical of lack of progress on civil service pay agreement

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