Gov’t, public sector to discuss outstanding fringe benefits issues
THE finance ministry and civil service representatives are to meet shortly to discuss outstanding fringe benefits due as part of the recent public sector classification that resulted in significant wage improvements across all levels.
According to newly elected president of Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) St Patrice Ennis, the issue has remained unresolved for several years as Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) and the finance ministry focused primarily on the salary negotiations.
The matter has been revived by the current president and vice-president of the JCSA, Teacha Clarke-Griffiths and Clarence Frater, respectively.
They are insisting that the outstanding issues should be given priority and addressed by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke as early as possible.
Ennis told journalists, at a recent press briefing at the JCTU head office on Hope Boulevard, St Andrew, that he had dialogue with Clarke who suggested a meeting early in the month, with December 11 a likely date, as soon as the minister returns from a trip abroad.
“Those, in a nutshell, capture the salient issues which are outstanding, and we want to meet with the Government to have them resolved,” Ennis told the briefing.
“We are still having discussions where those things are concerned. We are now engaged with the phase two aspect of compensation restructuring,” Ennis stated.
“These are outstanding matters, not only for central government but for public bodies on a whole, and we wish to apprise not only you, the public, but also some of our members who might not necessarily be in the know of exactly what is going on because some [employees] are expecting payment in the next pay cycle, with respect to the outstanding items,” he said.
“We are talking about retroactive mileage of $100 per kilometre, and that came into effect when we are no longer getting motor vehicles, and it is to replace the motor vehicle upkeep which was supposed to be effective from April 2022,” added Ennis.
He said another issue is the understanding that some money was supposed to be paid, or the Government made an offer of paying the increment in two tranches up to 2025 â€” and those were supposed to be one-off payments and should be dispensed with the increment payment effective in 2025.
“They offered to pay just two increments, and we do not believe that there is any ground on which they can stand firmly to withhold the increment to the public sector workers,” he insisted.
In terms of proposed overtime payments, he said that there were myriad payment and compensation systems involving the workers.
“The objective is to get one omnibus policy, one uniformed policy where overtime is concerned. We have an understanding with the Government. The Government agreed with us in terms of what the new policy should be, and we expected that to be implemented. That has not taken place, and so persons are currently being paid at the overtime rate,” he added.
Ennis also raised the issue of contract workers, many of whom were employed on fixed-term contracts and who have been working for many years but are not entitled to the full raft of benefits that other public sector workers are guaranteed.
“We wrote a letter concerning all these items a couple of weeks ago. The Government has not formally acknowledged the letter but they have reached out to us that they will be having a meeting with us to discuss these very issues, and they are saying that they are preparing that we have a meeting in the week of December 11,” said Ennis.