Finance minister confident salary negotiations will end soon

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Finance and the Public Service Minister, Audley Shaw, says he is confident that the 2017/19 public-sector salary negotiations will conclude soon.

Noting the administration's desire to complete the discussions “over the next few weeks”, he said the Government is prepared to be flexible “as far as is possible” in accommodating concerns raised by unions representing civil servants, regarding the six per cent wage offer.

“We are looking at a raft of creative non-allowance and non-wage issues that we are (contemplating) putting into the mix. What we want to do in these negotiations is to make sure that we have equal footing for everybody,” the minister added.

He was speaking at Mayberry Investments Limited's monthly Investor Forum at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, yesterday.

Shaw said that among the creative alternatives and options that “we have to look at more carefully” are ramping up the National Housing Trust (NHT) timely construction and delivery of homes to public sector workers, and the proposed pension arrangements.

He said that in relation to pensions, “everybody needs to come on board with (their) contributions,” as the arrangement is an “important part of the social security system”.

“We want to make sure that those who were not making contributions can start, and we phase that in over a number of years. For those who have been making contributions, that we look at how they will be treated, relative to the others who are getting the phased-in programme,” the minister added.

Shaw underscored the need to give consideration to extending the period within which negotiations are conducted.

“The negotiating period of two years is too short. So, we have to put on the table that we need to have a negotiating period of three to four years, and then, within that context, you put together an acceptable programme,” he said.

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