BPSU President Kevin Grant has responded to recent comments made by Finance Minister Bob Richards saying he is “well aware” of the challenges we are facing, but the “only way to address this is collaboratively.”
Minister Richards recently held his first official briefing as Finance Minister, and said while keeping the OBA’s election promise not to lay off civil servants, Government will be talking with the unions to identify strategies to reduce Government personnel costs.
He noted that 46.8% of government expenses are related to employee compensation and benefits. When asked whether pay cuts, salary reductions, and freezes are being considered, Minister Richards said it “is on the table.” When asked whether reduced work weeks are on the table, he also said yes.
In response, Mr Grant said: “There has been a lot said over the past 24 hours since the Minister has made his comments. There have been a few suggestions as to what might possibly be put on the table for negotiations. The important aspect to remember is that they are only suggestions; nothing officially has been put on the table.
“However, that does not mean that I am naive to the predicament that this country finds itself in financially. I have said from the outset that there will need to be much more innovation and creativity going into negotiations mainly because things are not the way they used to be.
“The comment that there needs to be a shared sacrifice begs the question: Who specifically will do the sharing? Is this just sharing between government and unionized workers or is this to be shared in a tripartite collaborative manor including government, unions and the private sector? The latter is something the BPSU have been suggesting for sometime now.
“I am well aware that sacrifices will need to be made and the challenges that we are facing but the only way to address this is collaboratively,” concluded Mr Grant.
According to their website, the Bermuda Public Services Union [BPSU] represents more than 3,500 white-collar members within Government, quasi-Government and private sector businesses.