Are the unions and G.O.B. at a statemate?
The Joint Unions Negotiating Team is currently making the media rounds as they prepare for a meeting with Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the government team on April fifth. They claim that after receiving government’s proposal, they consulted with their membership, and then submitted a counter-proposal. They call it negotiation one on one proposal followed by a counter-proposal. But the team’s primary gripe is that they received a surprising response by letter from the Prime Minister, a response which has in their mind placed the whole process on uncertain ground. Minister of the Public Service Charles Gibson is on the government team, and today he told us that he is not concerned, and does not feel that negotiations are breaking down. In a letter to the unions, the Prime Minister allegedly stated that he is of the opinion that a firm agreement was reached at the February first meeting, but Gibson remembers it differently, and his story is the same one the union is telling.
Charles Gibson, Minister of the Public Service
“As far as I am concerned, it is a proposal that has been submitted. It is something that needs to be ventilated, which needs to be discussed and then we see where it goes.”
Luke Palacio, President, B.N.T.U.
“He responded on the fifth of March stating in his letter that he is disappointed at our response and to our counter proposal because as far as he is concerned we had already agreed.”
“I do recall that there were a number of times that what was discussed was that they would have to take back their proposals to the membership. Of course, at that meeting, I think simply because there was a stalemate, most people were very happy that a proposal was submitted. I know at the first instance, the unions seemed to have embraced it, but I want to believe that as a former union member myself; that would you would have to do is take that back to membership to get some sort of consensus; some kind of direction. We are preparing for the meeting of April fifth—as far as I am aware—that is one of the items on the agenda. And we are going to have a discussion. The counter-proposal has been submitted to government, so now we will discuss it and see where we go from there.”
Government’s team includes Gibson, Financial Secretary Joe Waight, Senator Godwin Hulse and Ambassador Mark Espat. Gibson confirms that the unions’ counter-proposal is on the agenda.