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All Trinidad accepts 5%

By COREY CONNELLY Thursday, May 5 2011

click on pic to zoom in
Acting president general ATGWTU, John Jaglal ...
Acting president general ATGWTU, John Jaglal ...

Acting president general of the All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union (ATGWTU) John Jaglal yesterday made no apologies for the union’s acceptance of a five percent wage offer from chief personnel officer (CPO) Stephanie Lewis.

This, despite cries of betrayal from his colleagues within the trade union fraternity, particularly those affiliated to the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), about the signing of the agreement. “Every trade union has a unique way of dealing with issues but we have always been independent in what we do,” Jaglal told Newsday after the union signed a new collective agreement on Tuesday with the CPO for the period January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2010.

“The workers’ interest comes first. The membership agreed, we negotiated and we have to look forward because there are other issues that must be addressed such as reclassification,” he said.

The agreement, which is expected to benefit about 25 monthly-paid workers and 45 daily-rated employees, came as the trade union movement is still reeling from the Public Service Association’s (PSA’s) surprise signing, on April 8, of a five percent salary for public officers over the corresponding period.

Labour leaders are also adamant they will not accept the Government’s five percent offer. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has maintained Government cannot, at this time, afford to offer workers exorbitant increases because of the state of the economy.

Yesterday, a release issued from the Office of the CPO said the union and the CPO on Tuesday signed two separate agreements for revised terms and conditions of employment for monthly paid employees as well as daily rated workers of the Sugarcane Feeds Centre (SFC).

“The agreement makes provision for a five percent increase in salaries and wages, after the consolidation of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) payable to employees at December 31, 2007, that is, $125 per month in the case of the monthly paid employees and $4 per day in the case of the daily rated employees,” the statement said. “With the consolidation of the COLA, the actual salary/wage increases which the employees have received range between 6.8 percent and eight percent.”

Parties also agreed to increases in the number of provisions, including meal and transportation allowances.

The SFC, located at Pokhor Road, Longdenville, is a research, demonstration and training centre for tropical livestock.

President general of the National Union of Government and Federated Workers James Lambert said he was “very disappointed” by the union’s move.

“The All Trinidad Workers’ Union are members of the National Trade Union Centre of which a decision was taken with all members present that none of the affiliates were going to accept the five percent that was offered,” he said.

“Whilst we have rejected the offer and we stand by that, I also feel that we have been betrayed once more by a colleague of ours.”

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