Public servants protest in support of restoration of pensions in Grenada

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Public servants protest in support of restoration of pensions in Grenada

With the demand for restoration of the constitutionally guaranteed right to a pension on retirement, public sector workers protested on the streets against the Grenada government on Wednesday.

Notably, the protest was scheduled by the Public Workers Union (PWU), the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) & Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and came less than 24 hours before the High Court is to hear arguments from attorneys outlining both the State and the unions on the crucial issue restoration of the pension.

“We are requesting for the court to restore justice. The government has failed to implement justice for the working-class men, the teachers, public officers, nurses, doctors, police officers, and prison officers,” said GUT President Jude Bartholomew.

“We ask for social and economic justice & we ask the Government of Grenada to restore our pension,” he said to the media.

Bartholomew further pointed out that the pension for public officers became legal in 1958 & was included in the Constitution when the island obtained its political independence from the UK in 1974.

“Justice must be made for the workers,” Bartholomew added.

The pension issue surfaced with the collapse of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, which had suspended the Grenada Constitution, which was only recovered after the left-wing government of PM Maurice Bishop was removed in a palace coup, permitting for the United States (US) and Caribbean troops to restore democratic rule on October 25, 1983.

While the reign of the People’s Revolutionary Government, it set up the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) as a replacement for the pension outlines that were enshrined in the Constitution.

However, before the 2018 general election, the ruling New National Party of Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell, signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with public sector unions to provide for pension restoration.

“The Grenada government is completely committed to assuring a just and equitable pension arrangement that would permit retired public officers to be able to get dignity also a high quality of life in post-retirement,” Mitchell said in a radio & television broadcast last month.

Mitchell noted the government had also commissioned a study of the issue.

“We have got a draft report and are in the process of evaluating the initial recommendations to ensure that they give a sound basis for an equitable settlement of this long prominent issue. It should be pointed, with certainty, that this Grenada government is determined to resolve the issue, once and for all,” he said then.