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Feb 20, 2023

Where is G.O.B. on Lifting the Increment Freeze?

Francis Fonseca

Last week, the joint unions met with representatives of the government to discuss the increment freeze. The unions want their increments to be unfrozen and they have given April first as their deadline. The President of the Public Service Union, Dean Flowers, indicated last week that they were pleased with the humility of the government. Today, Minister of Education, Francis Fonseca, who is a part of the government’s negotiating team, told us that while they want to restore the public officers’ increments, the timing of it is the issue. Coupled with that, he said, there needs to be a system where the increments are earned, not automatically given. And then there’s that always ticklish topic: pension reform.


Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture

“Last week, we had a very good discussion with them, a very productive discussion. Um, they, coming out of that meeting, I think there was a general, you know, agreement, um, on certain things. We have a follow up meeting on March 2nd, on March 2nd. Um, Our team will have to report back to cabinet, um, at our next meeting, which will be later this week. Um, and at that meeting then we will, based on what uh, cabinet decides, uh, we will be able to then go back to that, to the, to the unions, to the joint unions on next week Thursday, um, and inform them of our, our position on, on these matters. But we are, you know, Yeah, we’ve been very clear. Listen, we are absolutely committed to restoring, uh, unfreezing these increments. It’s just a question of, of when we can afford to do it, uh, in a responsible way, so we want to get it done. Um, we, we understand that the public offices and teachers deserve their increments back. So we want that to be done and we’re committed to getting it done during this fiscal year, upcoming fiscal year. Two, you know, we, we’ve said to them, listen, we need to engage in discussions on pension reform as well. Um, you know, one isn’t dependent on the other, but we want to engage in pension reform discussions because the current pension structure is unsustainable. So we have to preserve that pension fund for future generations. So we have to have that discussion. It won’t benefit our government because you won’t realize the savings from these things until maybe 10, 15 years down the road, but we have to start somewhere and we have to start sometime.”

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