Suspending the Ag Show for a year, consolidating schools, reducing the travel budget, and putting a cap on financial assistance are all some of the cost reduction proposals that have been agreed to by the Government and the Unions, the Finance Minister said yesterday.
The measures — which as described by the Minister would achieve a total savings of $9 million — came after three days of disputes between the Unions and Government, which resulted in schools being closed and public transportation suspended, as public service employees convened on the Cabinet Grounds.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday [Jan 29], Finance Minister Bob Richards said, “To ensure that the public are fully aware of the kinds of cost reductions being considered, I wish to share some of the proposals that have been agreed to by the Government and the BTUC.
Minister Richards said, “The Unions have agreed to our proposed expenditure reductions, including:
- Place a cap on Financial Assistance to reduce the allocation by $5M;
- To achieve savings of approximately $1M by consolidating schools;
- To reduce the Travel budget by $1M;
- To raise GEHI contribution that employees pay for uninsured spouses from 50% to 75%, saving $1.6M
- To suspend the Agricultural Exhibition for one year for a savings of $0.4M
“Some of our proposals which were not agreed to by the BTUC included:
- A cost sharing of employee pensions, increasing the rate paid by employees and decreasing that paid by the Government by 1 %, realizing a savings of $3.5M;
- A payment of all overtime at straight time. Instead, the Unions agreed to accept overtime that is normally paid at double time, at time and one half. They did not agree to any changes to overtime that is currently paid at time and one half.
The Minister added, “As a further note, the Bermuda Police Service and Corrections Officers were not in agreement in paying 50% of their health benefits, as is the case with all other negotiating bodies. This option is still being discussed with the Bermuda Police Association as it is just and equitable. ”
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