Stakeholders negotiating an increase in wages and salaries for public sector workers are
expected to meet today for another round of talks.
It is hoped that by the end of discussions, the parties will be one step closer to an agreement.
Several weeks ago, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, appearing as a guest on state television said
he was optimistic negotiations will end soon and that a formal proposal on a new wages and
salary structure will be presented to the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda for acceptance.
In 2018, public sector workers received a five percent across the board increase of their
incomes and in recent times, bargaining agents along with representatives from the
government side have been locked in discussions on a further increase.
A sever percent increase was reportedly rejected by the unions and the government
subsequently instructed its team to increase the amount. However, what exactly is being
proposed is unknown.
While the head of government has indicated his administration’s readiness to implement the
increase retroactively and pay the backpay by December, 2022, it is unclear whether an
agreement will be reached that is favourable to everyone. If this is not achieved, the
negotiations will likely extend into 2023.
Cabinet spokesman, Melford Nicholas, speaking to reporters yesterday, stayed clear from
addressing whether government will be successful in meeting the year end timeline the prime
minister is envisaging.
“I would not even venture to say how close they are because several factors are at play and it’s
a misnomer to think that the only thing they are negotiating are wages and salaries. There may
be other components to the negotiation that could cause them to delay, Nicholas stated.
If no agreement is reached by 31 st December, 2022, the information minister has hinted the
government may extend some form of goodwill to its thousands of employees.
“The expectation is that they could accomplish all of that by the end of the year, but if it is not
yet complete, the government would still want to ensure that there is goodwill on the system
and may be prepared to do something in the interim.”