DPSU's Thomas Letang
DPSU's Thomas Letang

The ayes had it. Members of the public service union have accepted Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's offer of the 5% increase in wages when the executive of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) met on Thursday afternoon with its members to approve the DPSU's executive's decision.

Speaking at the meeting, General Secretary, Thomas Letang told the members that it was just a few days before the general elections that Prime Minister Skerrit called about the 5% increase. However, Letang said he made it clear that if they were to have accepted that offer during that period it would have been seen as a bribe.

"I got a call from the Honourable Prime Minister about three or four days before the elections and he told me that he was prepared to move to 3%, 1% and 1% because the Venezuelan government had agreed to provide some budgetary support. At the time even if we had accepted, I am going to be honest with you, we would be accepting a bribe because you have to understand, friends, we do not, and I repeat, we do not negotiate salary increases with any politician including the Prime Minister," he said.

Letang added: "We negotiate salary increase with the Establishment Department; the Public Service Act of 1991 stipulates that the Personnel and Establishment Department is responsible for treating the representative body for public officers."

He then revealed that the government team was willing to provide the 5% increase but all non-salary matters had to be withdrawn.

"What they told us is if for example the government pays $25 on behalf of everybody that has medical insurance it is going to cost government $15,000 a month, $180,000 a year, and the Government team is telling us they no longer want to pay that because they want to make some savings to give us the 3%, 1% and 1%. I said ridiculous", Letang said.

Letang added: "How $15,000 is going to assist in that area when a minister of government with salary and all the allowances gets almost $15,000 a month. How can you refuse to pay $15,000 a month to assist your employees with medical insurance when an advisor in government, one man is making about $15000 a month. "What we are proposing they should stick to the contribution to the medical insurance the areas where other people should get allowances since these allowances are already in place we should stick to that."

The General Secretary pointed out that if wasn't the constant pressure and the heat of the elections the Prime Minister would have never offered public servants the 5% increase.

"My friends had it not been pressure had not been election the Prime Minister would have never move to 3%, 1% and 1%. These are the very same people who tell us there is no government on the face of this world who will provide you with budgetary support but all of a sudden that was found," he said.

"So what your union executive is proposing, and I do not know how they going to untangle themselves in what they have found themselves in, that is their business, so what we are proposing to you is we accept the 3%, 1% and 1%; we push on the condition that they pay the contribution to the insurance and the allowances…and since we are only six months from new negotiations, we bring back all these issues to the table when we sit together," said Letang.