After walking out of the office of the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Daryl Dindial, following over four hours of negotiations Public Services Association (PSA) president Leroy Baptiste said, "I am okay, I wish I can say I am more than okay but I am okay."
But as he recounted details of the meeting, that okay turned into optimism.
The PSA president said this new-found optimism came from the proposals his executive made to the CPO on behalf of public officers.
He said although his union had asked for a 19 per cent (9,6,4) increase for the period 2014 to 2016, he said some elements of the proposal can compensate for any financial shortfall.
Baptiste said that there are eight areas he had asked the CPO and by extension, the Government to now put focus on.
The first two are securing the tenure of officers and making contract workers permanent.
"Officers are lamenting that they have been temporary for years and that needs to be regularised, they need to be made permanent in their jobs," he said.
Another area is a proposed health plan which had already been negotiated with a public health care provider.
"And there is no need therefore to find all of this money upfront to pay a doctor bill or to pay for pharmaceuticals," he added.
Two other proposals are for land to be made available for public officers as well as preferential access to HDC homes.
"Home ownership is one of the must-haves by public officers," he noted.
There is also the issue of tax and duty exemptions on vehicles.
"To make car ownership less expensive for the public officer," Baptiste said.
The remaining areas for the Government's consideration are getting 'T' vehicles for travelling officers and for public officers to begin to earn vacation leave.
"On the face of it it is not expensive to implement those things that would help alleviate the hardship on public officers," he said.
He said, "So that if you take everything and put it in the mix you think you would be in a position to be able to say that by the action of government they have worked towards trying to minimise the impact of the cost of living on the shoulders of the public officer."
Baptiste said the CPO was receptive to the proposals and "he expressed the view that he will in fact advance our position to the Minister of Finance."
He promised to get back to them in two weeks.
With that in mind Baptiste had a good feeling.
"I am optimistic, I am optimistic that with effort and commitment on the part of the CPO and his staff and genuineness on the part of the Government to resolve the negotiations in a manner that would not result in asking the public officer to carry the burden of whatever adjustments in the country on their shoulders only, if they engage in genuine negotiations I think we should be able to resolve it, I am very optimistic that we should be able to resolve these negotiations."
The PSA president said, however, that it was not all smooth sailing in the talks.
"And as usual he did engage in the...he can't help himself, a little subtle threat in terms of it ought not to go somewhere else he would remind us...the military in him he always trying to end with a threat," Baptiste said.
Yesterday's meeting was the fifth between the union and the CPO to negotiate for this bargaining period.
The last offer given to the PSA was for a four per cent increase over a six-year period.
That had been rejected by the union.
Other public sector bodies have also been offered the same four per cent and they are awaiting further meetings with the CPO.