Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 15 Jul 2011, 07:41 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Jul 2011, 13:33 ]

The National Workers’ Union (NWU) is appalled, but not surprised, at the level of ignorance of industrial relations displayed by Finance Minister, Winston Dookeran, when he commented that consolidation of Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) is tantamount to a 12 or 13% increase.

If a worker takes home $10.00 basic wage plus $1.00 COLA, he/she goes home with $11.00. The practice is that the COLA is consolidated before a wage increase is applied and a new negotiated COLA is applied. If COLA was not consolidated before the new wage increase is applied then the real percentage increase would be less than the nominal percentage increase in terms of the worker’s take home pay.

Consolidating COLA does not put new money into the worker’s pocket. It is money that the workers already have. In the vast majority of agreements COLA is a fixed allowance and consolidation merely increases minimally the base rate that is used to calculate the new pay rates.

In agreements where COLA is tied to increases in the Retail Price Index, while the base rate may increase more substantially, it is still money that is already in workers’ pockets.

If the COLA was not consolidated then pension and termination benefits would suffer greatly over time and bear a very weak relationship to the worker’s actual take home pay.

Minister Dookeran behaves as if consolidation is some newly discovered mechanism that his government is bestowing upon organised workers instead of a well-established collective bargaining practice that has stood the test of time.

Gerry Kangalee, National Education and Research Officer of the National Workers’ Union said: “It seems to be another instance by the government of spin doctoring to confuse those not familiar with the practice of collective bargaining; just like the strange assertion by Ministers Tewarie and McLeod that the unions must come back to the bargaining table, when, in fact, the unions have never left the table.

The Minister’s sleight of hand is also reminiscent of Minister McLeod’s statement that he was not aware of any 5% cap, yet the Movement for Social Justice of which he is political leader, has called on the government to remove the five % cap making the correct point that one size doesn’t fit all.” What a ball of confusion!”
Gerry Kangalee,
15 Jul 2011, 07:45