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Govt Workers Draw $18M Backpay

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Thursday, January 26, 2006 - Government employees across the Public Service this week drew down on millions of dollars in back-pay, as the Treasury began paying the 10% increase awarded to workers at the end of negotiations between their unions and the Government's Negotiating Team last December.

On Tuesday (January 24) – the official pay date for Government employees – Civil Servants, Police Officers, Prison officers, Fire Officers, Nurses, Teachers and Daily Paid Workers represented by the Vieux Fort General and Dockworkers Union received their share of the $18 million package announced by the Government last December.

The payment, which represents the first three percent of the overall award, was added to workers salaries.

Accountant General Augusta Degazon confirmed on Thursday that “all has been going smoothly, except for the occasional calls by persons claiming they were either underpaid or over-taxed.” But he also indicated this was a regular occurrence whenever such massive payouts are made.

Mr. Degazon indicated that “apart from a few grey areas” regarding those daily paid workers for whom negotiations have not yet been completed, the bulk of the $18 million has been paid out.

The payout was made in accordance with Cabinet Conclusion #19 of 2006 and according to Mr. Degazon the 10% increase will be distributed for three periods covering the three years negotiated for by the unions with the Government's Negotiating Team.

According to the schedule, the workers will receive the first three percent (3%) covering the first one-year period from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005. This amount, which was paid this week, was also “tax free.”

The second payment, for the period April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2006, will be for another three percent (3%), and the remaining four percent (4%) will be paid for the period April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007.

However, the two final payment will not be tax free, as per the agreement.

The 10% pay hike for Government employees is the highest percentage they have received in the past 25 years.

The last double-digit increase was paid to the Public Servants by the Labour Administration in 1980, following a long period of intense and intractable negotiations that involved a 57-day strike against the then UWP administration in the lead-up to the general elections of 1979.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has indicated that since the 10% increase was way above the 7.5% originally projected by the Ministry of Finance, there may have to be some cost-cutting measures to meet the enormous bill.

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