From the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Public Service Union, 24 April 2000
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The St Vincent and the Grenadines Public Service Union (PSU) hereby seeks to update or to inform you of the latest struggle with which we are now involved.
In 1992 the Government enacted legislation which removed the privilege from all Public Sector (Civil Servants, Teachers, Police and Nurses) of a gratuity and pension from the consolidated fund of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In 1998 government introduced a bill to parliament which sought to pay senators a gratuity. The general public protested and a committee headed by Dr Dwight Venner, Governor of the East Caribbean Central Bank, was set up to look into the salaries and pension arrangements of Parliamentarians. The committee reported in 1999. The recommendations of the committee included issues relative to higher salaries, integrity legislation, a committee to review the salaries of public servants and a bill to enhance pensions and gratuities for parliamentarians.
This bill was presented to parliament in March 1999 and was read twice despite protest of Parliament, mounted by PSU and other interest groups. A select committee was set up to look at the bill. The committee reported within four (4) weeks and the bill was then taken back to parliament on April 19, 2000.
On April 19, 2000, PSU, St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers' Union (SVGTU), The Nurses' Association, and other interest groups mounted a large demonstration outside Parliament in opposition to the bill. The Government ignored the Voice of the People and proceeded to pass the bill. The Unions met subsequently and took the firm decision to ask the government to resign or actions will be taken to achieve this objective.
To date actions are taking place in some key sectors of the economy, including the hospitals, prisons and the main E T Joshua Airport. The actions planned will be intensified until our objectives are met.
We anticipate a hard struggle and is soliciting your solidarity.