Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke says it is time to "bite the bullet" and move on with negotiations.Insisting that he did not "sell out," to the Government, Duke said accepting the five per cent wage agreement was in the best interest of the membership.In an interview on I95.5 FM, Duke stated that PSA has always been transparent.He claimed that on Tuesday, a meeting was held to discuss the issue. "After much debate, what we had was a general support for the five per cent with the benefits," he said. Although maintaining that five per cent was disrespectful, he said: "The benefits of what I have done will be seen for time and eternity and it is something that people will reflect upon and praise PSA for the move it has made."He added that a year from now public servants will be in a better position, not only financially but also socially, mentally and physically.
To his detractors, he said: "As a leader I have led every single march in this town in Port-of-Spain and as a leader I have taken the hot sun and cold rain in San Fernando. As a leader I have sat on the steps of the gate to the PM residence, the palace so to speak. As a leader I slept on the cold concrete, so no man could come and say to Duke, you sold out."Although insisting he acted in the best interest of his membership, Duke said if society felt he had done something wrong he was prepared to take his blows. "I will not run from my licks," he said.
Admitting he did not consult with National Trade Union Centre which is now threatening to shut down the country to protest Government's five per cent offer, Duke said it was not mandatory for him to do so. Duke said he believed the country and public servants had suffered enough and the time has come to let them breathe.