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Wage freeze could go beyond 2017, says Roberts

Monday, March 10, 2014    

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HEAD of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute Danny Roberts has warned of government's wage freeze going beyond 2016/17 or the possibility of retrenchment of thousands of public servants if there is failure to strengthen the country's external competitiveness and generate higher levels of productivity and real GDP growth.

Robert was speaking on the topic "Work Ethics, Wage Freeze and the Employee" at a staff development workshop at the Charlemont High School in St Catherine on Friday.

Roberts noted that the present public sector wage freeze has broken the connection between better performance and more pay, which is a crucial dimension of comprehensive understanding of work ethics. He, however, urged the teachers and administrators in the educational system that notwithstanding the wage freeze, they should recognise and believe in the moral benefit of work and the value of their work as professionals in building character and laying the foundation for social and economic development.

According to Roberts, too often workers have become complacent in periods of crisis and "what we are likely to be seeing now are workers sitting back and waiting for the end of the wage freeze to make demands for increases based on the sacrifice they have made over the past four years".

He added that since a wage increase is dependent on growth then workers should have a real interest in seeing a comprehensive growth strategy developed to include productivity improvements and labour market reform. He noted, too, that a wage increase was not a legal entitlement, "and while there are moral considerations underpinning a wage increase we all have a responsibility to think of what we can do for our country to make it a better place to live, raise families and do business".

At the same time, Roberts told the workshop that "one dimension of work ethics, which is pertinent to the educational system, is that it must be laden with the intent to advance the common good, that is, to improve the quality of our education".

He said, however, that teachers cannot escape having the value of their work assessed on the basis of reliability, initiative and value-added, for which they must be provided with a fair wage.

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