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$432M for 40,000 daily workers

By JANELLE DE SOUZA Friday, December 20 2013

The estimated cost of the revised wages and Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for more than 40,000 daily rated workers over the period January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2013 is $432 million, according to Chief Personnel Officer, Stephanie Lewis.

Lewis was referring to the collective agreement signed Tuesday between herself and the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW) for the Central Government, certain Municipal Corporations and the Tobago House of Assembly for the 2011 to 2013 period, which saw workers receive a 12 percent wage increase.

At a press conference on Tuesday, NUGFW president general, James Lambert, noted the agreement was signed before the period of the collective agreement expired at the end of December. He said the increase meant daily wages would increase from $208.60 to $244.50 for labourers, $240.60 to $ 280 for checkers, and $349 to $400 for foremen.

Lewis noted the agreement was reached after four meetings which she described as “cordial and respectful”. She was also pleased the agreement was reached before the expiration of the period, as it allowed beneficiaries to enjoy the advantages “in a timely manner”.

Asked when was the last time a wage increase agreement reached double digits Lewis replied, “During the 2008 to 2010 period, where agreements were reached for a nine percent increase in salaries and wages in areas of the Public Service. Employees actually received double digit increases when Cost of Living Allowances were consolidated with salaries/wages prior to the application of the agreed increase.”

Daily-rated workers expressed satisfaction, saying they were “generally happy” with the 12 percent wage increase.

One Ministry of Food Production employee said she appreciated that they got a double digit increase without having to “come out on the road and protest.”

A daily rated worker from the Tobago House of Assembly said she was happy about the increase “for now” but she expected food prices to rise soon, which would negate the 12 percent increase. Another worker, this time from the Ministry of Works and Transport, stated she intended to save some of the money, and use the rest to pay off a loan.

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