Civil servants have threatened the government with strike action if it fails to heed their call to reverse the recently announced austerity measures. Reports indicate that civil servants are yet to receive their bonuses after the government promised to pay them at the end of November.
The Health Services Board (the body which represents government medical personnel) and the Apex Council (the body which represents all civil servants) called on the government to adjust its policies. Apex Council Chairperson Cecilia Alexander said
The Health and Civil Servants Apex Council jointly demand a revision of some of the 2019 budget proposals by the Minister of Finance.
It is our position that any further move to implement the said proposals will certainly cause disharmony between ourselves and the employer and may, in the end, defeat the government’s well-intentioned objective to stabilise the economy.
The decision to pay a bonus based on basic salary is unacceptable to us and amounts to a withdrawal of a benefit, much against the law. The same applies to the 5% cut on the salaries of senior civil servants.
If workers are going to pay duty in forex, it follows that salaries should be paid in forex. This proposal on forex will have the effect of excluding civil servants from buying vehicles and some foodstuffs. Our salaries are in RTGS (real time gross settlement), customs duty is in US dollars. If we convert our salaries to US dollars on the parallel market we get jailed for 10 years.
The budget does not at all mention the cost of living adjustment, which is an urgent matter given the massive erosion of our incomes since the continuous surge in prices of basic goods and service.