Former president of the Public Services Association (PSA) Jennifer Baptiste-Primus claims the association's president Watson Duke agreed to the five per cent wage increase for public servants long before signing the agreement with Chief Personnel Officer Stephanie Lewis.Speaking yesterday on I95.5FM's call-in programme, Baptiste-Primus, now a talk show host at the radio station, claimed Duke had settled for the five per cent increase before last week's meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Lewis.About the meeting, Baptiste-Primus said: "The whole thing was stage-managed."Last Friday, Duke signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the PSA and Lewis agreeing to a five per cent wage increase for public servants at the Prime Minister's Office, St Clair.
Duke's acceptance of the five per cent wage increase surprised both members of the PSA and other trade unions, who supported Duke's protest against the offer.Baptiste-Primus said the process of agreement entailed Lewis submitting a draft agreement to the union for it's approval.She said once the draft was sent back to Lewis, indicating the union's agreement, a final contract was put together for signing.
She claimed, too, that by Duke signing the agreement last Friday, it was an indicator he had previously agreed to the five per cent wage increase without consulting the PSA membership and fellow trade unions.She said: "The dishonesty comes in when you know you have arrived at a position and did not go the union's higher body nor did you tell your colleagues in the trade union movement."
Baptiste-Primus claimed Duke's decision to sign an agreement without consulting the union's general council was "dictatorial" and "undemocratic."She said Duke had the responsibility to call a meeting with the general council to inform them he viewed the five per cent offer acceptable.Baptiste-Primus said Duke did a great disservice to all the trade unions who stood in solidarity with the PSA against the five per cent wage offer.
"The entire trade union fraternity came together to support the PSA, and if Duke felt he had reached a point in negotiations where he was ready to accept the offer, out of courtesy alone he should have informed them."Baptiste-Primus said Duke's decision to sign for the five per cent increase had upset all public servants and trade unions.She said: "They (public servants) are not at all happy."Duke did not respond to phone calls yesterday and messages left for him were not returned up to late yesterday.