Phillips to meet with unions this week
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 this week.
The Jamaica Observer understands that Dr Phillips will outline to the trade unions the positions the Government will take in deliberations with members of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team expected here on September 25.
Phillips, however, will have a chance to outline the country's economic situation and the need for the trade unions' support, when he speaks with the leaders at a forum planned for the headquarters of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), Hope Boulevard, Kingston on Wednesday.
The minister told the House of Representatives last Tuesday that the trade-off with the unions is "either wage restraint or the cutting of positions". However, 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 by Minister without Portfolio Horace Dalley, and was firmly rejected.
Phillips has insisted, however, that whatever actions the Government takes, it will seek to find ways to minimise the impact on the workers and their dependents.
President of the National Workers Union Vincent Morrison confirmed that the unions have submitted their wage claims and are expecting negotiations to follow.
"We expect the wage negotiating process to chip in, but as to the results of those negotiations, I cannot comment one way or the other," Morrison said.
President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union Kavan Gaye said that while his union is fully aware of the issues facing the Government, it must recognise that the public sector workers have been making painful sacrifices for several years.
"We need to know what kind of support the government plans to give workers like these to help them through these perilious times," Gayle commented.