FRIDAY, SEPT. 28: A plan to save millions of dollars by cutting Civil Service salaries and taking a pensions contributions holiday has stalled, the Bermuda Sun can reveal.

Government got broad agreement from trade unions earlier this year to cut salaries by eight per cent and freeze pension contributions for a year, meaning take-home pay would be unaffected.

But problems with the Police Association – which cannot negotiate over police pensions – mean the plan is yet to get off the starting blocks.

A Police Association spokesman said earlier this year no negotiations could take place while the current contract, due to expire at the end of the month, was in place.

Sergeant Kevin Christopher of the Police Association said yesterday: “We will discuss our contract in general and our options, but we haven’t done that yet.

“I haven’t put the issue to the membership because it’s something we can’t discuss in accordance with the legislation.”

Kevin Grant, president of the white collar Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU) said the union had written to the Secretary to the Cabinet last week looking for an update on Government’s position.

Mr Grant added: “I will say that an opportunity was missed by all parties involved to make a collaborative effort for the benefit of the country.

“With the economy the way it is and job security being a major concern, this probably could have been the catalyst for more meaningful dialogue and discussion to better prepare for what may happen in the near future, which forecasters say is not looking good.”

Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox called on unions to back the plan – which would save an estimated $31 million over a year – in February.

She later announced that PLP parliamentarians had agreed to a package of cuts totalling 17.5 per cent – a freeze on pension contributions ‘with a commensurate reduction in gross salary’ plus an additional five-per-cent pay cut.

OBA leader Craig Cannonier backed a five-per-cent salary reduction – and said his Parliamentary team would start putting five per cent of their salaries into a special account and donate to charity from March 1.

But he added the Opposition would not support a pensions contributions freeze for MPs, Senators or Government workers, describing it as ‘a raid on the future’.

A Government spokeswoman confirmed the deadlock on pay cuts. She said: “The Ministry of Finance has advised that there is no update on this matter.”