Trade unions in Suriname upset over salary increase for gov’t ministers
PARAMARIBO, Suriname, CMC – Trade unions in Suriname have expressed disappointment over the “substantial increase” in salaries for government ministers and have joined the opposition in condemning the 50 per cent hike.
Chairman of the opposition party, Da'91, Angelic del Castilho, has described the increases as shameless.
Secretary General of the Confederation of Civil Servants Organizations, Glenn Swamipersad, has given the government a three-week ultimatum to implement the 50 per cent wage increase for civil servants and that strike action cannot be ruled out.
The trade union said that the government had refused to give a one-off payment of SRD $10,000 to civil servants, with the authorities arguing that they were unable to meet that demand because of the current financial situation facing the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
He said that the parties later reached an agreement for SRD $2,500 per month for civil servants and SRD $1,800 for pensioners.
“We are very unpleasantly surprised. Now suddenly there appears to be money for a 50 per cent pay increase for government members,” said Swamipersad.
On Tuesday, President Chandrikapersad Santokhi issued a decree authorising the salary increase for government ministers.
The State Council approved the measure on Wednesday with the main opposition National Democratic Party voting against the measure.
But, the coalition parties VHP, Abop and PL, as well as the representatives of the trade unions and the business community in the council, supported the increase.
The salary increase is retroactive to May 1 this year and in the explanatory note, Santokhi said that the process for compensation and allowances for members of the government has not been adjusted since 1994.
“The strong decline in purchasing power since the 1994 assessment also has major consequences for the disposable income of a member of the government,” he said, adding that over the past three years, the income, remuneration, and allowances of various professional groups, including the judiciary, directors and deputy directors, in government departments have been adjusted.
The confederation at an emergency meeting demanded that the government apply the principle of equality and implement the previously agreed wage increase of 50 per cent for civil servants, which has already been arranged by resolution, within three weeks.
The union is also demanding immediate implementation of the increase in allowances and the reconciliation of matters such as gratuities, promotions, tenures and revaluations, which were previously agreed upon.
These cases have been pending for more than two years.
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