The Trade Union Federation (TUF) has suffered a major blow in its ongoing battle with the St. Lucia government for increased salaries for public workers after the Police Welfare Association (PWA) accepted the four per cent offer by the Kenny Anthony government.
"In the history of the Federation we have never had a member breaking ranks and accepting an offer as a single association," TUF president Julian Monrose said, confirming reports that the PWA had signed the accord on Thursday.
Anthony has said that the country could not afford more than a four per cent wage hike for the 2010-2012 triennium, while the TUF is sticking to its demand for a 9.5 per cent increase or six per cent with stipulated conditions.
The public workers returned to their jobs on Wednesday at the end of a second week of "sick outs" that have crippled government services and left schools closed.
The TUF, whose membership includes the Civil Service Association, the Fireman Association, and the Nurses Association, said it is prepared to hold negotiations with the government even as Monrose acknowledged that we are still trying to assess the impact of the behaviour of the police body.
But what I can tell you is that at the last meeting between the TUF and the government negotiation team the Police Welfare Association was represented and we unanimously rejected the four per cent. So what could have caused a change of heart by the police we do not know as they have not communicated with us," he said.
Monrose said that despite the action by the PWA, the TUF remains united and would not allow the issue to divide it.
"I can speak very clearly of the other members that they will stand very firmly with the position of the Federation.
"I guess in all situations you will have persons who are firm and strong while you will have others who are suspect even from day one," Monrose added.
Last week, Anthony said that the government would need an estimated EC$42 million (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) to meet the four per cent wage hike bill and that this could also lead to a reduction in expenditure for services to the population.