By Aabigayle McIntosh
Wigley George, the President of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU), has expressed elation over the 14 percent pay offer for public servants in the upcoming budgetary cycle.
The AT&LU, the longest-standing trade union on the island, primarily represents non-established workers, constituting the largest segment of the public service workforce.
“I was looking forward to negotiations for 2021, 2023, and 2023 but having received such good news that the government has decided to grant a 14 percent. The government puts it at 5 percent for 2018, 5 percent for 2019, and 4 percent for 2020.
“So, right in the middle of that is that 5 percent that non-established workers will benefit from,” George said during a state media interview.
Several weeks ago, Prime Minister Gaston Browne disclosed a 14 percent pay raise during an interview with a panel of journalists.
At that time, he also mentioned the possibility of a slight uptick in taxes to offset the budgetary gap, with the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) being a potential candidate for adjustment due to its flexibility.
While expressing enthusiasm about this development, George remains mindful of the government’s fiscal strategies. He offers a word of caution to the Antigua and Barbuda government, urging them to exercise prudence to prevent any undue strain on the Treasury Department.
As it relates to the increase in the ABST he said, “Government must find the revenue to keep the treasury going, they must find that revenue and I do believe that the government is prudent enough to know that in order for them to keep afloat they would have to implement certain measures,” George said.
He expressed uncertainty about the potential impact, noting that they are unlikely to introduce drastic measures affecting everyone.
George added that the consideration of a tax increase should also take into account global factors such as the conflict in Ukraine and other influences that could contribute to rising living costs.”