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Jul 26, 2012

C.W.U. and S.S.B. finally pen Collective Bargaining Agreement

After years of back and forth, today the Christian Workers Union signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Social Security Board. Following the lengthy negotiations, President of the C.W.U., Antonio Gonzalez, says that they achieved at least seventy-five percent of what they had originally proposed and will continue to negotiate on other benefits. But for now, Gonzalez says that it is a victory in their books, particularly for the one hundred and seventy workers of S.S.B. who are union members. Gonzalez says that one of the biggest hurdles they crossed was for a five percent salary increase and a long service payment award.

 

Antonio Gonzalez, President, C.W.U.

Antonio Gonzalez

“I believe that we have achieved a progress for our membership of Social Security Board. Since 2009, we have been negotiating this collective agreement and as such we signed the collective agreement today, but within that period, many things happened right; frustration, strike; industrial action by the union; conniving methods by the management, right, and so forth and so forth. But we are proud to say on behalf of the executive and the Christian Workers’ Union, our membership is satisfied with what we achieved. Some of the areas that more or less were upgraded, like we have the relocation grant, acting and responsibility allowance, rental allowance, transport allowance, mileage, cashier allowance; and we introduced a staff loan arrangement and an education loan arrangement so these are new areas whereby our members can upgrade their technical skills, pursue further education and so forth; scholarships, we upgraded the scholarships; salary received a five percent increase effective first January 2011, so that means come January 2013, we have to re-negotiate a salary increase for our members. We also improved on the long service award whereby our members when they work so long for a period of time with the institution, they get gradually long service award. So overall, I think we have improved on many of the benefits that were there before and we re-introduced and agree to new ones.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, Mr. Gonzalez, you said you achieved about seventy five percent of what you wanted to come to an agreement to; what are some of the points that you weren’t able to reach an agreement on?”

 

Antonio Gonzales

“Well some of the benefits; I don’t have the tallied benefits but some of the benefits that we had in mind to improve. In any negotiation process, we had to give and take, so we had to forego some of these benefits that we wanted to improve. So in essence, we are saying that we believe that we achieved most of our projections and what we decided on. We forgot to mention that we also managed to introduce a new salary incremental system and that is beneficial to our membership also.”

 

James McFoy

James McFoy, General Secretary, C.W.U.

“The fact is that this should’ve been signed long, long ago, so if you look at it, year in year out it accumulates, so what actually happens now, because of the fact that we signed today, does not mean that we will no longer go around the table to start a new negotiation. What happens now is that we just finished one and then we have to start another.  What actually happened is that management was on board, and as you all heard, why we had to go to the media etc, is because with the last negotiating team, we had agreed to certain things and because of this new board, this new board decides that we cannot sign and not in agreement with certain aspects of what was negotiated.”

 

Gonzales says that Labour Commissioner, Ivan Williams who signed on the agreement, was instrumental as a third party negotiator. Both Gonzales and McFoy, along with two C.W.U. members signed on the union members behalf. Signing on behalf of the S.S.B. were Douglas Singh as Chairman and Elena Smith as board member.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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