Opposition leader says gov’t is putting the cart before the horse
Leader of Opposition Dr. Gale Rigobert has insisted the legislation of pay cuts prior to engaging the relevant stakeholders is unprecedented.
The minister for finance must acknowledge the error of his ways in bypassing the unions and taking the unilateral decision to propose wage cuts for civil servants.
Dr. Gale Rigobert says that the prime minister has gone against the principles of industrial relations.
Section 79 of the Saint Lucia constitution 1978 that deals with the “Authorisation of expenditure from Consolidated Fund by appropriation law” offers clear guidelines about the Estimates of Expenditure and the Appropriation Bill that gives the Government legal authority to access the monies in the Consolidated Fund.
Dr. Rigobert says “… when I forewarned the prime minister that he was going against the grain of democracy by legislating the wage cut …. prior to engaging the relevant stakeholders, he was very dismissive. But here we are with a legislated pay cut … and now he [The prime minister and minster for finance] is fighting to gain consensus … something which he dutifully and lawfully should have done before legislating the wage cut”.
In this year’s budget debate the leader of the Opposition predicted that should the unions/workers of this country reject the five percent cut in salaries, it would then be incumbent upon the government, as required by the law to return to the House of Parliament with a Supplementary Estimate (to reflect the salaries that workers are entitled to) and a Supplementary Appropriation Bill.
Now it appears that the prime minister and minister for finance will have to do what he should have been done in the first instance and seek agreement on a way forward with respect to wages; except of course if he holds true to his threat of taking the unilateral decision to implement the wage cut without the consensus of the people; an act he should not be allowed to get away with.