KINGSTON, Jamaica — Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips says that the trade-off between the Government and trade unions in current public sector wage talks is either wage restraint, or the cutting of positions.
“I need to make it plain: we have been proceeding with the workers and their representatives and they are to be commended in their foresight and their commitment. They have settled for 2010-2012 and we are (now) discussing 2012, going forward. There is no doubt what the trade-off is: it is either wage restraint or the cutting of positions,” Dr Phillips told the House of Representatives, Tuesday.
He said, however, that the Government would try to find ways to minimise the impact on the workers and their dependents, even in the face of the difficult conditions.
Phillips, who was responding to questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness, explained that there would be no hiring freeze as not all vacant posts would be removed from the establishment. “We are seeking to ensure that, even as we cut, we do not impair unnecessarily or disproportionately the effective functioning of departments, so there is no hiring freeze,” he said.
He stated that the Government had to find a way to meet its medium-term objectives, while keeping social cohesion and sustaining economic growth.
The minister added that the key focal points in the talks with the unions were wage restraint, pension reform and sustaining the fiscal operations to achieve the reduction of the deficit essential to going forward in a relatively debt-free manner.
Prior to its adjournment Tuesday, the House approved the removal of over 3,100 posts from the civil service, through the Civil Service Establishment (General) (Amendment) Order 2012 Resolution moved by minister without portfolio in the ministry, Horace Dalley.
Dalley explained that a circular sent out in June requesting a review of the posts each department, agency and ministry felt could be removed resulted in the submission of 3,100 posts including, but not limited to, obsolete classifications, non-critical posts made vacant through retirement or resignation and those vacant for a long time, but still on the establishment. Most of the cuts came from the Ministry of Health, where 1,046 posts are being eliminated.
Departments which have become statutory organisations with duplicated posts, such as regional health authorities, will also have some posts abolished.