Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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PWU wants Government to certify commitment to pay pension

The Public Workers Union (PWU) is requesting government’s commitment in writing before accepting the prime minister’s announcement at a political rally regarding the payment of pension.

During a political rally late last month as the country prepares for the June 23 general election, Prime Minister Dr the Right Hon Keith Mitchell told supporters that as a first stage of implementing the High Court judgement, “all entitled public officers appointed by the Public Service Commission who will retire in 2022 at the legally accepted retirement age of 60 will be paid their pension during this year 2022.”

He went on to state that the payment for those retiring in 2023 will be included in the 2023 budget to be presented during the last quarter of this year, “so those in 2023 will also be paid their payment.”

The prime minister’s announcement came even while the nation was not informed that he had received recommendations from the broad-based advisory committee headed by economist Dr Spencer Thomas to provide technical advice and general guidance on this issue.

During a national address in April, Dr Mitchell said the committee “will get to work immediately to look at all aspects of the implications of this pension issue, and to make specific recommendations for the government to consider. The government expects that it will have actionable recommendations within three months.”

Consequently, the PWU in a June 07 press release said that it will not accept these declarations made on political platforms “as truthful or professional” and accordingly awaits “official correspondence, either through our legal representative or directly from the administration in relation to any action taken stemming from the court judgment.”

The Union noted that since the March 29 judgment, its attorneys sent correspondences to the Government of Grenada on three occasions during the month of May requesting data regarding the Government’s liability to the workers and for the Government to immediately start paying new retirees, as a demonstration of good faith and sound jurisprudence.

However, the release said “To date, neither our union nor our lawyers have received a time sensitive commitment from the Government of Grenada on paying pension or honoring the court ruling. Conversely, the union has gotten wind of declarations on the political platform by senior members of the ruling administration of an intent to pay the said pension.”

Recalling the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of 2018 that the three major trade unions signed on the eve of general elections but it was not honoured thereafter, the PWU said it “will not allow our workers to be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.”

PWU president Brian Grimes explained to this newspaper that the MOU was to restore pension and gratuity by the incoming government but the NNP administration reneged on the MOU which led to workers engaging in protest and the subsequent docking of salaries.

Notably, there was also a disagreement on how gratuity should be calculated with the unions saying its 25% and the government saying its 2%. All this led to the unions to bring a class action suit against the Government on the matter resulting in the March 29 judgement.   

“It was a horrific experience and it was poor relations. There is not healing even in 2022 on the way government treated with workers during that period,” Grimes said Wednesday.

Therefore learning from that experience, the union in the release, called on “government to immediately certify its declarations professionally, by communicating to the relevant parties regarding this extremely serious matter.”

The prime minister at the political rally regarded the pension matter as “the largest and most challenging industrial relations fiscal issue” but stated that Government has made “an irrevocable commitment” to pay.

He added, “It is a legacy issue for me; when I leave this job, I want to be remembered for having solved that problem. So believe me when I say the New National Party (NNP) will find a way and will pay those workers their pension benefit based on the judgement of Judge Glasgow.”

Dr Mitchell disclosed that to make the payments, the Government would not be borrowing monies and raising the country’s debt but “by fiscal management of the country we are going to meet that responsibility; so 2022 and 2023 and subsequent years, those workers will receive their pension.”

Regarding outstanding payments to those already retired, he said, “I am not going to fool you and tell you we are going to pay all now, that is impossible, and anybody who tell you that they are trying to fool you.” He explained there will be a “phased approach to payment that is consistent with the national cash flow and that would be announced shortly.”

Photo Caption: Public officers during this year’s May Day march where the payment of pension was chief among the issues highlighted  

PWU wants Government to certify commitment to pay pension

The Public Workers Union (PWU) is requesting government’s commitment in writing before accepting the prime minister’s announcement at a political rally regarding the payment of pension.

During a political rally late last month as the country prepares for the June 23 general election, Prime Minister Dr the Right Hon Keith Mitchell told supporters that as a first stage of implementing the High Court judgement, “all entitled public officers appointed by the Public Service Commission who will retire in 2022 at the legally accepted retirement age of 60 will be paid their pension during this year 2022.”

He went on to state that the payment for those retiring in 2023 will be included in the 2023 budget to be presented during the last quarter of this year, “so those in 2023 will also be paid their payment.”

The prime minister’s announcement came even while the nation was not informed that he had received recommendations from the broad-based advisory committee headed by economist Dr Spencer Thomas to provide technical advice and general guidance on this issue.

During a national address in April, Dr Mitchell said the committee “will get to work immediately to look at all aspects of the implications of this pension issue, and to make specific recommendations for the government to consider. The government expects that it will have actionable recommendations within three months.”

Consequently, the PWU in a June 07 press release said that it will not accept these declarations made on political platforms “as truthful or professional” and accordingly awaits “official correspondence, either through our legal representative or directly from the administration in relation to any action taken stemming from the court judgment.”

The Union noted that since the March 29 judgment, its attorneys sent correspondences to the Government of Grenada on three occasions during the month of May requesting data regarding the Government’s liability to the workers and for the Government to immediately start paying new retirees, as a demonstration of good faith and sound jurisprudence.

However, the release said “To date, neither our union nor our lawyers have received a time sensitive commitment from the Government of Grenada on paying pension or honoring the court ruling. Conversely, the union has gotten wind of declarations on the political platform by senior members of the ruling administration of an intent to pay the said pension.”

Recalling the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of 2018 that the three major trade unions signed on the eve of general elections but it was not honoured thereafter, the PWU said it “will not allow our workers to be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.”

PWU president Brian Grimes explained to this newspaper that the MOU was to restore pension and gratuity by the incoming government but the NNP administration reneged on the MOU which led to workers engaging in protest and the subsequent docking of salaries.

Notably, there was also a disagreement on how gratuity should be calculated with the unions saying its 25% and the government saying its 2%. All this led to the unions to bring a class action suit against the Government on the matter resulting in the March 29 judgement.   

“It was a horrific experience and it was poor relations. There is not healing even in 2022 on the way government treated with workers during that period,” Grimes said Wednesday.

Therefore learning from that experience, the union in the release, called on “government to immediately certify its declarations professionally, by communicating to the relevant parties regarding this extremely serious matter.”

The prime minister at the political rally regarded the pension matter as “the largest and most challenging industrial relations fiscal issue” but stated that Government has made “an irrevocable commitment” to pay.

He added, “It is a legacy issue for me; when I leave this job, I want to be remembered for having solved that problem. So believe me when I say the New National Party (NNP) will find a way and will pay those workers their pension benefit based on the judgement of Judge Glasgow.”

Dr Mitchell disclosed that to make the payments, the Government would not be borrowing monies and raising the country’s debt but “by fiscal management of the country we are going to meet that responsibility; so 2022 and 2023 and subsequent years, those workers will receive their pension.”

Regarding outstanding payments to those already retired, he said, “I am not going to fool you and tell you we are going to pay all now, that is impossible, and anybody who tell you that they are trying to fool you.” He explained there will be a “phased approach to payment that is consistent with the national cash flow and that would be announced shortly.”

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