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May 6, 2020

Ministry of Finance Threatens P.S.U./B.N.T.U. Over Increments and Allowances

The government is in a serious financial pickle due to the economic crisis that has befallen the country in its fight against COVID-19. The wage bill accounts for one of government biggest expenditures so the Ministry of Finance is proposing cutting the proposed increments and allowances for teachers and public officers.  Public officers and teachers are being asked to do without increments and allowances during this period of financial difficulty.  In a letter written today to Gerald Henry, President of the Public Service Union, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, in conveying the position of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, threatened the union.  He says, “If the P.S.U. still rejects the proposals, please be informed that the minister intends to proceed as follows.  He will seek, after hearing from you, to advise his Excellency the Governor General to amend the Public Service Regulations so as to give the minister the power to alter salaries, emoluments and increments in order to deal with the current unprecedented situation. The executive of the P.S.U. is convening an emergency meeting tonight during which it will formulate a position ahead of responding to the FinSec’s letter.  News Five spoke with Henry via phone earlier today.


On the Phone: Gerald Henry, President, Public Service Union

“The initial reaction was of course that I needed to see exactly what the membership of the Public Service Union wants the union to do in respect to that, you know, on their behalf.  So what we did was to send out immediately the information to our membership and ask them, you know, basically what they intend for the union and how they intend the union to respond.  So what we have done is that we’ve been canvassing our membership and we have a meeting set for later this evening to discuss and also craft a response to that letter from the FinSec.  As it relates to what exactly will be the content of that letter, I am unable to say because I have not been able to find out exactly what all the members have been asking us to do.”


Isani Cayetano

“In your letter, as the Public Service Union, in response to the Financial Secretary there is the notion that the position and of course the subsequent decision to be taken by the government should  it reach to that point, reflects one of bad faith, in terms of the negotiation process that you guys have been having.  Are you at liberty to comment on that?


On the Phone: Gerald Henry

“I would prefer not to at this time and wait until we send out an official release tomorrow that would more than likely be an update to our official position right now.”

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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