With a spike in the cost of living and on-going job losses, public sector workers are now facing a possible wage freeze.
That is almost sure to place the government on a major collision course with the trade union sector.
Notably, the People’s National Movement (PNM) and a section of the labour movement signed a pre-general election memorandum of understanding, which extolled collaboration.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley recently urged unions to temper their financial demands in light of the difficult economic times.
But Ancel Roget and some labour comrades last Friday protested outstanding collective agreements.
Unions are gearing up for a showdown with the government.
Indications are that the government will offer minimal salary increases across the board.
The Guardian newspaper, the mouthpiece of big business, has recommended a wage freeze.
In fact, the newspaper accused the government of “cowardice” in not telling “labour leaders in plain language that the best it can offer is a wage freeze.”
Of note is that inflation has spiked in recent times, partly due to the imposition of Value Added Tax on hundreds of items and the declining value of the national currency.
Also, Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus has confirmed that there are on-going retrenchments.
Of interest is that the average salary increase for public sector workers from 2011 to 2014 was 14 per cent.
The labour sector had strongly criticised the previous administration as being anti-worker.
There is keen interest in how the current pay negotiations will pan out.