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Phillips to meet trade unions Thursday

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer Senior Reporter

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 | 12:34 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips is expected to meet with members of the trade unions representing public sector workers at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Thursday (September 18).

Dr Phillips is expected outline to the trade unions the position the government is planning to take in deliberations with members of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team expected here on September 25.

However, Dr Phillips will have a chance to outline the country’s economic situation and the need for trade union support, when he speaks with the leaders at a forum planned by the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) at their headquarters, Hope Boulevard, Kingston on Wednesday (September 19).

The finance minister told the House of Representatives last Tuesday, that the trade-off with the unions is “either wage restraint or the cutting of positions”.

But the unions have not taken kindly to this ultimatum, which was first made at last week Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Public Sector Monitoring Committee (PSMC) by Minister without portfolio, Horace Dalley, and was rejected.

The government has insisted, however, that whatever actions it takes, it will seek to minimise the impact on the workers and their dependents.

At the same time the member unions of the JCTU have submitted a 25-point claim to the Ministry of Finance and Planning which they insist must be negotiated to see what can be done to ease the plight of workers.

The unions — the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU); Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers (JALGO); Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA); Jamaica Workers Union (JWU); National Workers Union (NWU); Trade Union Congress (TUC); University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU); Union of Technical, Administration and Supervisory Personnel (UTASP); Union of Schools, Agricultural and Allied Workers (USAAW); and the United Union of Jamaica (UUJ) — met at the confederation last Wednesday and finalised a 25-point claim, covering April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, which has been submitted to the finance ministry.

Spokesman on public sector issues for the JCTU, USAAW's Keith Comrie, said that the unions have already informed the ministry that despite the economic conditions, the process of negotiating must be exhausted.

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