Wage Rage

Newsday Editorial
October 28 2010 – newsday.co.tt

President of the PSA Watson DukeANY responsible person is likely to be torn in his sentiment towards the wage talks between the Government and the Public Services Association (PSA) for members of the Public Service.

On one hand the Government’s offer of 0-0-1 percent for the past three years respectively is quite startling, alarming and really impractical for workers who have seen no freeze in the prices they daily face over the same three-year period.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that Trinidad and Tobago is still in a big economic mess, with a huge debt incurred by the wanton squandermania of the former PNM regime, a stagnant economy, and a huge number of demands for special favours from an array of self-interested special interest groups who sometimes seem blind to the greater needs of the wider society.

PSA president Watson Duke has called for a $6,000 minimum wage for the Public Service which we find to be a demand that is just as extreme as the Government’s 0-0-1 offer is unpalatable.

Sober heads must now prevail.

While 0-0-1 percent is disturbing, we doubt the Government could afford the PSA’s demands which would further this year’s Budget deficit reportedly by another $4.9 billion, just to pay one group, the PSA workers? What happens when workers in other sectors see this increase and then demand theirs, we ask?

Perhaps the PSA should have really pressed their wage-demands harder under the former PNM regime which maniacally spent this country’s money, rather than now try to milk a dry cow by squeezing the broke new Government that is actually putting its shoulder to the wheel to try to lift the country out of the economic mire.

The new Government has had to resort to deficit financing to the tune of $7B due to lower than expected revenues from oil/gas and petrochemicals due to flat commodity prices globally, (although oil has made somewhat of a rebound). They must also fund the bailout of Clico and Hindu Credit Union (HCU) investors. Another call on the Treasury is the recent increase in the State pension to a basic sum of $3,000 per month.

At the same time of all these demands on the Treasury, all economic indicators are that the country is still in a lull, such as low levels of stock-market prices, low earnings on Treasury bonds, a recently lowered repo rate, and little or no growth in GDP.

So we don’t think anyone should be seeking any huge increase in salary and allowances at this point in the country’s economic history.

However, we also understand how offended public servants must feel by the offer of 0-0-1 percent. Inflation, especially due to huge hikes in the price of local food crops, continues to eat into workers’ pay-cheques. Rents are perennially high in this country, and people incur other unavoidable costs such as transportation, clothing, and school-textbooks for their children.

However we certainly do not agree with Mr Duke’s proposal of a Public Service minimum wage of $6,000 per month. There are surely lower-level posts that by virtue of the prerequisite certification and skills probably do not merit such a salary level, and indeed would not attract such a salary for the same job being done in the private sector. The other concern with a $6,000 minimum level is that it would likely serve to push up the wage-demand at each successive level of post above that starting point.

Indeed this is a key concern of wage negotiations: Whatever salary is being negotiated in the public-glare will inevitably affect the proverbial 101 other wage-claims that are not even at the bargaining table, with a multiplicity of other trade unions and occurring in both the public and private sectors.

So all in all we are dissatisfied with the negotiating positions of both sides in the wage-talks. We can only ask both parties to revisit their positions to achieve a fair and realistic solution in the not too distant future, so as to avoid the perceived need for any more “Blackout Tuesdays”.


9 thoughts on “Wage Rage”

  1. As US General Colin Powell once said to his Commander in Chief in a slightly different context,”if you break it, you own it.” Now would the Newsday and their editors,quit bellyaching about previous regime, and what Public servants ‘coulda , shouda done,’ in terms of making forceful demands?
    By so doing, they are putting silly ideas into the general reading populace minds, that these protestations, are politically motivated.
    Ah we miss dem days of Chambers 6%, and Robie , aka Aw we bouy , confiscation of Public Servants Cola,to appease certain segments of his party, that eventually orchestrated his ouster , and near murder. The new powers that be should be reminded that the wrath of the people can be quite telling ,in and out of election, as history would prove, for alleged broad based coalition/ Alliance government, yes?
    While we on this subject , can someone please someone ,explain to me how this Abudallah ,guy and the other former OWTU giant Mc Cloud could sleep peacefully in the night,eh?

  2. Watson Duke and the PSA officials are determined to undermine the PP government in a flagrant display of partisan politics.These people should wake up and smell the peleau. The Manning government has succeeded in bancrupting the treasury. There is very little left : Clico obligations, mega projects, international soujourns,etc. etc.Sure, public servants should be properly paid, but if we use productivty as the yardstick, these jokers would all have to take a paycut!Duke, my man, the PNM lost the election, don’t try to recontest it.You guys are lucky to have jobs.In all major juristications in the universe, public servants have been laid off to reduce government expenditure.

    1. Everyone knows that the only difference between the PP and the PNM is that one knows how to govern and the other knows how to run to govern; that while one knows how to make it, the other knows how to fake it.

      And without mentioning which is which, I know that the partisans of both parties intuitively know which is which.

  3. It’s very interesting how many are vilifying the public servants and claiming they are PNM and blah, blah, blah. That wasn’t the case when they endorse the PP and went out in droves to vote for the PP eh. Remember is the PP promise them 25% increase and $20 minimum wage…Manning promise %20 and they tell Manning go so with that….alyuh sleep with the devil and look how it turning out? Like most of the population, y’all now realizing alyuh get hoodwinked, jajajajajaja!

    Also, Mr. Author, I was like you to know that under the PNM “squadermania (more PP propaganda)” our economy was growing faster that most other economies in the world and was barely affected by the international slowdown…check the article in the economist if you think I lie…anyway, since the PP come in to power, the economy stall, unemployment rise (we will rise!), inflation through the roof and all alyuh sitting on alyuh two hands and chanting the mantra, “Is the PNM fault.” Continue that for the next 5 years, see how far we will reach!


  4. It really amazes me to see how these so called journalists could sit and write this horses assery still blaming the PNM for all the foolishness the PP is doing. The bottom line is this, the PP don`t have a clue about running any country and say what you want, like everybody else he has faults,but Mr Manning knew what he was doing. I suspect that the PP will spend the next five years(if they survive) campaigning that is their strategy. Mr. Manning is a hated man even though he did a lot of good things, but then again Christ was also crucified. Remember what they say about ungratefullnes, it is worst than obeah, there is worst to come.

    1. Are you serious? Are any of you who are reading the above and contemplating; yeah maybe he did know what he was doing… are you serious? Do you not remember?

      Manning knew how to keep the wolves away from the door, nothing more.

      the man protected Calder
      the man had a see-er woman! (which would be comical if he had not paid her with my taxes)
      wasted how much on useless buildings?
      on useless and lavish summits, mansions, ‘attack helicopters’, blimps,(and the list goes on but it makes me too sick to continue…)
      Can you not remember? the inflation?
      the lack of clear police force leadership? The lack of competent security ministry leadership? Under him, Trinidad’s crime became DISGUSTING.

      And the short sighted who cannot see beyond the next ‘mont-end’ and who cannot remember the soaring inflation under his leadership, and who cannot understand that the effect of all of his megalomaniac excessive spending DID INDEED stimulate the economy, built a tower in the sky without a foundation, made a Ponzi scheme out of our economy, they will now bawl for him to come back in power, just as someone else was doing the hard, nasty work of cleaning up his mess.

      Trinidad has a bright economic future, it will come in time, and hopefully this rounds it will build up the foundations of our country.

  5. You must be Rudolph the red nose reindeer.You are absolutely correct. Manning knew “what he was doing”, and as we now know none of it was above board.
    The comparison of Manning to Jesus Christ really puts you in a special mental category!

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