Gov't looking to speed up wage talks — Holness

Friday, November 17, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government is working to quickly resolve issues relating to the 2017/19 public sector wage negotiations.

Holness noted that while it was not expected that unions and other stakeholders would immediately accept the offer put forward by the Government, the negotiations have not been progressing at a reasonable pace.

“There will always be a period of negotiation, a period of dialogue and communication and an exploration of what possibilities there might be that could ease the acceptance. That process has not moved apace as I… the International Monetary Fund (IMF)… and other stakeholders looking on would have liked,” he said.

Holness was speaking at a joint Government/IMF media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister today (Friday, November 17).

He said he has held discussions with Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, and his team to see “how we can improve that dialogue, improve the communication and build the trust and credibility on both sides of the conversation”, adding that “that exercise will have to be intensified”.

Holness stressed that it is crucial to conclude the negotiations, noting that “some amount of fiscal uncertainty” is created if the Government does not know what its wage obligations will be going into the new fiscal year.

The Prime Minister appealed to the unions to consider the offer, reassuring that the Government “will always maintain a respectful and collaborative stance in the negotiations”.

Public sector workers are being offered a six per cent wage increase over two years.

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