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CLASS BIAS AND PUBLIC SECTOR BACK PAY By Gerry Kangalee

posted 5 Nov 2015, 12:13 by Gerry Kangalee
The class bias of the politicians in this country is legendary. They are quite clear that, after all is said and done, they do not serve the interests of working people and the poor. They serve the interests of their financiers, foreign capital, big business, the employers and, of course, their families, their friends and themselves.

In the final analysis, our political parties subscribe to the capitalist world view, defend the neo-liberal ideology, hold the masses in contempt and think that public funds belong to them, once they have won an election

To illustrate the point: Finance Minister Colm Imbert in his 2016 budget speech said: “the previous administration has encumbered the new Government with $5.0 billion in arrears of salaries based on the conclusion of collective agreements with a number of trade unions in the frenzied run-up to the 2015 Election.”

Although, the five billion figure seems way out of whack, we’ll let that pass. The goodly minister is saying that the previous administration has “encumbered” or burdened the new administration with a debt that is owed to the workers. This is money that workers have already worked for and have not yet been paid.

It’s just like public debt repayments that are owed by the government to its creditors, local and foreign. Yet these payments are privileged over those owed to public officers, health sector workers and others in the public sector. Yet Imbert carps about having to pay the debt to ordinary working people who are struggling to keep their heads above water to pay their rent, mortgages, transport costs, send their children to school, buy food etc. while fighting up with an inflation rate that has increased by over 40% since 2010.

So here is the Minister of Finance grumbling about what he claims is a $5 billion dollar increase in the public debt; remember most public sector workers, including health sector workers, did not get a wage increase since 2010. Let’s look at the increase in the public sector debt since 2010. According to the Review of the Economy 2015, net public sector debt increased from $50 billion dollars in 2010 to $76 billion dollars in 2015. This includes the debt profile, both domestic and foreign, of Central Government, statutory authorities and State enterprises.

So how come Imbert isn’t carrying on about this $26 billion dollar increase in the public debt his administration has been “encumbered” with over the same period as the debt owed to workers in the public sector? He does not rant and rave about how much debt is owed to the Inter American Development Bank or to the Chinese state banks or the domestic banks and other financial institutions!

The answer is simple really. It is because working people are held to be of little consequence. If the government could get away with chinksin’ on the retroactive payment to health care workers, public officers and others, they would certainly do so. Remember trade unions had to put up a tremendous battle to break the last government’s five percent wage cap.

Already the talk in health care circles is that the retroactive payments which the last minister of finance claimed would be paid at the end of this month will be deferred to January 2016. Health care workers had to put on their marching boots and force the government to pay their wage increase in August or they might have still been on 2010 salaries.

Workers must always bear in mind that regardless of which party they voted for, when it comes to defending their bread and butter, their class interests, they have no friends in the government and despite the games played by some trade union leaders, if they do not fight to protect, defend and advance their interests crapaud smoke dey pipe. Employers, including the government, never willingly meet the demands of workers. They always have to be pressured, kicking and screaming to do so. Talk about class bias!
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