CASTRIES, St Lucia (GIS) -- Although the government of Saint Lucia has engaged the island's public sector unions in finding ways to reduce expenditure, the message from the minister for the public service, information and broadcasting is that wage reduction has not been finalized and retrenchment is not an option.
Senator Dr James Fletcher
Senator Dr James Fletcher said government continues to meet with public sector unions to explore avenues to reduce the country’s current deficit.
In response to concerns raised by opposition senators during the debate on the 2014/2015 Appropriations Bill, Fletcher says there is no need for undue panic, as nothing has as yet been agreed upon.
"The government of Saint Lucia is in negotiations with the public sector unions. Nothing has been decided on. Nothing has been agreed. The government has said that it must make a reduction in its expenditure. It has said so. And we have been having the meetings. And all of the meetings that have gone; have centred on finding out how we make those adjustments," the public service minister said.
In direct response to a suggestion of reduction by attrition, Fletcher said though government is exploring the difficult option of wage reduction, retrenchment is not an option.
"We have no intention of legislating a wage cut. There has to be a contract between the unions and the government to decide how we reduce expenditure. But Senator Montoute said that, instead of doing a 5% cut, let’s just do a process of attrition. Well, Senator Montoute, a 5% adjustment, if we were to do that, the savings from that would be $18.5 million or the equivalent of 495 workers being retrenched. So 5% wage cut or 495 persons being retrenched to give you a savings of $18.8 million."
Fletcher said allowing retrenchment and failing to fill these respective posts would be disastrous to the island’s essential services.