MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) now has a home at the RADA building on Caledonia Road.
The office, which opened last Monday, will serve the south central region which incorporates Manchester and the neighbouring parishes of Clarendon and St Elizabeth.
O'Neil Grant, president of the JCSA said it was important to the organisation that its presence be felt. The expansion, he added, was a "direct and deliberate strategy" to position the association to adequately meet the needs of its members in a changing public sector.
"Several years ago...we had the association scan the environment (to) recognise where our strengths and our weaknesses are. It was brought forcefully to us that the best way to serve the members for whom we exist is to be close to them; to ensure that they not only hear us, but see us and feel our presence where they are.
"We started off with the western office. When we examined and we saw how our members appreciated it, we went on and created a regional structure for the organisation. We established two offices — one here in Mandeville to serve the south central region and one in Port Maria to service the north east section of the island," he explained.
The JCSA president said among the areas of immediate concern are proposed pension reforms and the need to make the public sector more efficient by way of policy reviews.
"Transformation is not about cutting jobs. Transformation is about meeting the challenge that we have been asking our government to meet for years. (We want) that they make the public sector, through their policies and programmes, a more efficient place to carry out the functions that we have to carry out.
"We as public sector workers have sacrificed for the last 10 years. We have sacrificed for the greater good... of our fellow public sector workers. We advocate not just for current workers, but for those who will be going off. We do realise that the six out of the 10 years that we have not received a (salary increase) has dealt a serious blow to our pensioners. They are in a worse position than they could have been..." he said.
However, Grant said the challenges being experienced also present opportunities.
"We are not going to back down. We are not going to shirk. We are not going to say 'put it off'. The challenges that we have will create the opportunities that we can exploit," he said.
Lloyd Goodleigh, president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) said the expansion of the JCSA demonstrated vision and imagination.
"It shows imagination. Fundamentally, one of the things we forget as Jamaicans is that economic growth really is imagination. You have to imagine a different set of circumstances and change your attitudes and behaviour to deal with those circumstances," said Goodleigh.
The JCSA, which predated the trade union movement, has its headquarters in Kingston.