Friday, February 26, 2021

Gov’t negotiating in bad faith

Through a statement from the Office of the President, Government has announced a decision to proceed with its public service salary adjustment offer of 3% across the board.

The same statement says although “the Public Sector Unions have accepted the offer they have demanded to have it backdated to April 1st 2012, while Government has offered to effect it on October 1st 2012, on the grounds that the economic situation does not permit backdating the increase. This has resulted in deadlock”.

The statement goes on to say “Government maintained that it made its offer clear from the commencement of the negotiations. Government says that in the event that an agreement is reached, the commencement date will be in the month that the negotiations are concluded. For scales C4 and below the 3% increase will come with a recession relief allowance ranging between P150.00 and P230:00 per month. This offer was to all Public Servants but because there is a deadlock in the case of Unionised employees the increase will for now be awarded to those who are not eligible to join Unions.”

 In short this statement amounts to nothing more than saber-rattling.

It is nothing more than a call to arms, made by a triumphalist government that knows so well that it has broken the backbone of trade union movement following the last industrial dispute that lasted for months.

This is a glaring example of the bad faith with which government approached the so-called negotiations.

If ever there was any doubt over the reluctance of this government to co-exist with organized labour, the response quoted above puts all those doubts to rest.

From the first day, the decision by government to allow full unionisation within the civil service was half hearted. It was a reluctant decision, made grudgingly as it had become clear that there was no longer an alternative since that was the general direction that the world was taking.
Because the decision to accept unionisation was made grudgingly, now the government feels totally restricted in allowing the unions the full rights that are to be expected in a democracy.

“Government says that in the event that an agreement is reached, the commencement date will be in the month that the negotiations are concluded.”

This the most explicit way of  government telling unions to accept now, because the earlier the better since going into the future unions can only lose out because this government will not make any further concessions.

The sub-text of it all is to divide the workers and put unnecessary pressure on union negotiators to accept the government offer at the earliest possible time.

“This offer was to all public servants, but because there is a deadlock in the case of unionised employees the increase will for now be awarded to those who are not eligible to join Unions.”

The upshot of this statement is to undermine the very efficacy of belonging to a union. Government is showing union members that you do not need a union after all because those employees who do not belong to any union have already benefitted without union input.

The intention is not only to divide employees and by extension break their employees but also to create a feeling of envy by those who are union members.

The coating of benevolence is only meant to discredit trade unions, to drive home the message that no significant benefits accrue from belonging to a trade union.

“What is the use of a union if non-union employees are getting hikes? Why should I be a union member when all that brings with it is delay in my salary?” This is the contempt that government is trying to cultivate in the mind of a public servant.

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