PSOJ encouraged by progress in public sector wage talks

Saturday, January 20, 2018

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The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) says it is encouraged by a news report implying that some progress has been made with wage negotiations between the Government and public sector workers.

“Our understanding is that the prime minister has intervened and instructed that creative ways be found to compensate the public sector workers where possible. This is a position we have always maintained as, given the fiscal constraints, it was always going to be necessary that out of the box methods are applied to arrive at a win-win situation,” the PSOJ stated in a news release.

“These creative ways, however, must not only be about finding available resources but must of necessity include a merit pay mechanism so that greater productivity is the result,” the group added.

The PSOJ said that in the case of the police, there is no doubt that there should be an objective measurement based on the crime statistics and the general law and order in the society.

“Achieving these present objectives could be funded by the proceeds of crime, which in turn would reduce crime and allow us to benefit from the four to six per cent of GDP lost to crime in the country,” the lobby group said.

“The directive by the prime minister is encouraging, and it is our hope that there can be a speedy resolution, as it is important that the matter of the wage negotiations is settled so that we can focus our attention on growing the economy, which includes placing our emphasis behind addressing the problem of crime,” PSOJ President Howard Mitchell said. “While the wage negotiations remain incomplete, this can only be a distraction from the greater efforts of economic and social development.”

Unions representing public sector workers have requested pay increases totalling 60 per cent over the 24-month period for which a new agreement is expected to last (2017/2019). The last agreement, which was for a seven per cent increase over two years, expired on March 31, 2017.

But since then, the International Monetary Fund, with which the Government has a Stand-By Arrangement to reduce its debt, warned that the failure to fulfil a commitment to reduce the public sector wage bill to nine per cent of gross domestic product, made during the previous Administration, spells danger for the country's economic prospects.

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