In a matter of weeks some 18,000 civil servants who fall under the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) will get a new industrial agreement, which makes provisions for $10 million in increments.
The contract specifically lays out some additional increments for civil servants which will be added to their base salaries come July.
The agreement, which was signed at the Public Service Office on Meeting Street late last evening and is for the period 2010-2013, takes immediate effect, according to senior government officials.
The previous agreement expired in 2010.
Due to the financial position of the country, the BPSU headed by President John Pinder decided to forego any additional benefits until after negotiations on a new contract begin in 2013.
“This agreement includes all of the normal benefits that civil servants would receive over the years. But also, civil servants will get a lump sum payment equal to one year’s increment, which will be received before the end of July,” said Minister of Labour Shane Gibson.
Effective July 1, he said persons receiving increments will receive one additional increment in their incremental month.
This means that civil servants whose incremental month is in July will receive a total of two increments straight through until the end of June next year.
And those whose incremental month is in June will receive two increments instead of one in June 2013.
“I just want to personally thank the BPSU for their understanding in terms of the difficult time the country is currently facing. Between now and next year, hopefully we will be in a better position. And so I really want them to know that we appreciate their patience,” Mr. Gibson said.
Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said the total value of the compensation package inclusive of the BPSU, the BUT and what will be paid to other civil servants that are covered under the BPSU, is just over $10 million.
“We view the relationship between the BPSU and the Government of The Bahamas as a partnership. And we will work very hard to make sure that over the next few years we put the country in the fiscal position where you [the BPSU] can look forward to increased benefits for your members and we need to membership of the BPSU to assist us in the endeavour.”
Mr. Pinder said the union is pleased that it has finally been able to reach this agreement.
“We know that some of our members were disappointed that they were not able to receive the lump sum payments in the last pay package, however, we are satisfied that they will get it just in time to help with school expenses in July,” Mr. Pinder said.
“As the minister said, the money will be added to their base salaries in addition to whatever increment is earned in July 2012- June 2013. We wish we could have accomplished more things, but seeing as though this agreement will only last until 2013, we will immediately begin to fashion a new agreement which will reflect all the things we were unable to achieve in this agreement.”
Mr. Pinder continued saying, “We wish that governments will try to ensure that all civil servants are compensated as it relates to increases and benefits simultaneously so that none feel disadvantaged.”
This agreement, according to Mr. Gibson, was reached by the previous administration.
He said after reviewing the agreement, the government decided to move forward.
“Nothing has changed. The financial conditions of the country remain the same,” he said.