Acting labour minister initiates arbitration to resolve Grenada pensions dispute

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Acting Minister for Labour, Anthony Boatswain

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — The newly appointed acting minister for labour, Anthony Boatswain, is taking immediate action to seek a solution to resolve the dispute between the Pension Engagement Committee (PEC) and the trade unions and staff associations in Grenada, in the dispute over the advanced payment of pension (gratuity).

The acting minister, having been briefed, has invoked his powers under the Labour Relations Act and has advised the disputing parties that he intends to send this dispute to an arbitration tribunal.

Boatswain has written to the trade unions that represent essential service workers, the Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) concerning a threat contained in their correspondence of Friday, November 23. In that correspondence, it was stated that the unions have called their members back out on strike and it will now include strategic services of TAWU.

The acting minister said he considers it prudent and advisable that the dispute be sent to an arbitration tribunal and that the essential services of hospitals, electricity, telecommunications, water and sewerage among others, be protected and maintained in the interest of the economy and the public.

The meeting is set for the ministry of labour on Monday at 8:30 a.m.

Boatswain is of the view that the law lays down procedures for the resolution of disputes in essential services and the time has come for the matter to be resolved by an independent and impartial tribunal.

In a statement on November 16, 2018, the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) on behalf of the public sector unions and staff associations (PSUSA), comprised of the General Public Workers Union, various armed services unions and an assorted grouping of public sector unions, is protesting against the PEC and what they claimed is the “dishonesty” of the PEC in reneging on a February 2018 memorandum of understanding.

The PSUSA claimed that they signed the MOU of February 18, 2018, on the understanding that the gratuities would be based on 25 percent or the pre-1983 understanding and agreed upon rate prior to the passage of the Pensions Disqualification Act of 1983, reached between the respective unions and the government.

Mitchell’s re-elected, after winning the March 13, 2018, general election in Grenada by a consecutive clean sweep at the polls, through the PEC, wanted the PSUSA to accept a 50 percent decrease in the gratuity.

Now, the unions have been offered a mere two percent gratuity by the New National Party (NNP) administration, claiming that there was no agreement made between the government and the PSUSA that they agreed to any particularly figure.

Public service unions in Grenada staged a massive protest march last Tuesday to draw attention to the pensions issue.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. It is a very important, crucial, calculated and albeit tactical move on the part of the newly appointed Acting Minister for Labour, Anthony Boatswain and the Government of Grenada, for taking immediate action to seek a solution to resolve the existing dispute between the Pension Engagement Committee (PEC) and the trade unions and staff associations in Grenada, in the dispute over the advanced payment of pension (gratuity).

    Previous to the emergence of, or injecting the present Acting Labour Minister into this impasse, the question one will ask, or Grenadians need answers to is, why did the present Minister of Labour did not previously intervene? And why did the Government have to appoint an Acting Minister of Labour? Why did Anthony Boatswain who had previously indicated that he was not interested in holding any ministerial portfolio, suddenly thrusted into this contentious situation? And why did the Government took this adversarial position to file an injunction against the unions to prevent them from taking industrial actions?

    Nevertheless, it is very refreshing to see that wiser and cooler heads have prevailed so far, and this has averted actions that will have had devastating and negative economic impact on Grenada. It worthy of note to mention, the inability to negotiate in good faith by either side can plunge Grenada into a whirlpool that can be mired in political upheavals, strike and economic woes. Both sides have provided supporting data to support their position. Is incumbent upon both sides to put Grenada first and seek the middle ground.

    Minister Boatswain had indicated, ” that the law lays down procedures for the resolution of disputes in essential services and the time has come for the matter to be resolved by an independent and impartial tribunal.”

    Ok, Minister Boatswain we believe you. Let us see what will be the outcome of the next stage of dialogue. We anxiously await, and is eager to see the impact the independent and impartial tribunal will have on this dispute.

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