Teachers were paid their December salaries yesterday with Government committing to pay the rest of civil service, stating that “salaries were statutory and the employer would not renege on paying them.”
With a slight delay to the payment for teachers, after Government moved pay dates, there were between $35 – $45 deductions (7.5% of their salary) made towards pension due to the implementation of recommendations made in the civil service audit carried out earlier this year.
Unions representing various civil servants have expressed displeasure at the deductions, questioning why no dialogue is taking place with them and they are just being notified via the media. They have called for a meeting with Government, which will take place on the 6th of January 2016, where hopefully a strike will be averted.
However, according to the Public Service Act and Public Service Regulations that specifies the procedure for job action, Section 16:04 states that negotiators first engage each other and if no solution is found they can call an independent arbitrator, thereafter, if the arbitrator’s decision is disputed by the employees, they can proceed to give a 14-day strike notice.
Should they take this route, then the January strike most probably will be overtaken by events, as civil servants would have already been paid.
On issues pertaining to the civil servant’s audit, not only will pension contributions be introduced, but student teachers and trainees’ allowances have been reduced from $329 to $157 while salaries paid to teachers at trust and private schools by Government have been terminated.
Government has also started charging rent for its houses, claiming that workers are getting housing allowances that cover that as well as introducing bus fares for those that use state transport. This is all being done to reduce the financial outlay that Government goes through monthly, as 83% of Government revenue is being used to foot salaries. These new measures are hoped to save Treasury as much as $389m per month.