Union: PM knew about NGC wage freeze beforehand

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) says it is hard to believe that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley did not know about the planned wage freeze at the National Gas Company (NGC).

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, CWU president Joseph Remy said that Dr Rowley is on the energy committee and would have been apprised of the state of NGC and Petrotrin, and he alleges that the Prime Minister knew about the planned move and wanted to keep it quiet.

Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus held a joint media briefing on Monday with President of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) Ancel Roget following a meeting to discuss the wage freeze at NGC. JTUM said the union was not consulted beforehand and they found the move by the Energy Minister “disrespectful.”

A move which Baptiste-Primus quickly defended and apologised for what she described as “an oversight.” However, today, Remy says if Dr Rowley was aware and JTUM was not informed, the move was disrespectful.

Baptiste-Primus said the move had become necessary due to the state of profits at the state enterprise as profits steadily declined since 2013 from over $9 billion to $3 billion in 2015. The labour minister said in context of British Petroleum sending home over 50,000 workers globally due to falling energy prices, the freeze on all salaries, benefits and bonuses for the rest of 2015 and 2016 was preferable to retrenching workers.

The freeze will affect 1,500 workers.

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