Gov’t eyes pay increase offer for public sector workers

Gov’t eyes pay increase offer for public sector workers

Dalley: Cabinet not preparing for another wage freeze

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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THE Government is expected to make a pay increase offer to trade unions representing its employees when negotiations on a new three-year labour agreement start within two weeks.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and Planning Horace Dalley told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that Cabinet has no intention of seeking another three-year wage freeze, as had been the case over the past six years, for public sector employees.

"We have just concluded work on the parameters of what we will be putting on the table to the unions and, as the chief negotiator (for the Government), I am expecting the negotiations to commence within another two weeks," the minister said. "I am not preparing for another wage freeze.

The Cabinet is not preparing for another wage freeze. Something will be on the table. It might not be as much as they would want, but something will be on the table," he committed.

Dalley is expected to canvass the response of the trade union leaders when he chairs today’s monthly meeting of the Public Sector Monitoring Committee (PSMC) at his ministry.

He is expected to present them with an overview of the economy, which will seek to convince the trade unionists that the country’s economy is on the right trajectory, and that the Government’s intention to continue on its current path — influenced by its Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — should be supported.

Dalley told the House of Representatives in the sectoral debate in July that the Government — as part of its human resource reform, and recognising that the public sector is in need of a "more robust and effective" compensation package — had conducted a compensation review in March as an IMF structural benchmark.

He said that, while the negotiations for the current contract — which expires at the end of March 2015 — began on Boxing Day in 2012 and was signed on March 6, 2013, under the current IMF agreement a new framework for the discussions has been developed and negotiations for a 2015/17 agreement will start in November.

The minister said that while there are a few issues still overlapping from previous agreements between the Government and the unions, he expects that commitment to be met.

"I believe that, within two weeks or so, the first round of these negotiations will commence, and there is likely to be a wage settlement," he insisted.

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