Clarke thanks public sector workers as 95 per cent accept wage offer
Finance and Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke as he closed the 2023/24 Budget Debate at Gordon House. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Despite protests and delays, up to 105,000 public sector workers would have accepted the Government’s wage offer ahead of the March 31 deadline, according to Finance and Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.

The minister said this represents 95 per cent of the public service.

He was speaking Tuesday as he closed the 2023/24 Budget Debate at Gordon House where he thanked the workers for moving the public sector compensation review process forward despite the difficulties.

Clarke explained that the 95 per cent mark will be reached as soon as the government signs with rank-and-file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) who have indicated that they will accept the offer.

The police and teachers were the two largest hold-out groups, with teachers staging four days of protests in the form of sick-outs, sit-ins and go-slow earlier this month as they demanded a “livable wage”. Both groups have since accepted the offer though the police are yet to sign.

Clarke noted that 95 per cent of workers signing is significantly higher than the 60 per cent he had reported when he opened the Budget Debate on March 7. He said the fiscal risks of which he was concerned and which he shared with the workers and the wider population, will be averted when all groups sign the agreement.

“We expect, certainly for the groups who have signed, that the retroactive payments will be paid out this month. We will endeavor that the funds leave the Consolidated Fund by the end of the month,” the minister assured.

Following his appeal two weeks ago when he urged all workers to sign, Clarke said “I want to thank all members of the public service who responded positively and decisively”.

He noted that over 80 per cent of teachers voted to accept the offer and are now in the process of receiving the $12 billion set aside in the current budget to facilitate the payments.

Clarke also noted that $6.4 billion will be paid out to doctors and that over 95 per cent of them voted in support of the public sector compensation review programme.

Similarly, Clarke said the $10 billion set aside in the budget will be paid out to the police this month as soon as they sign the agreement. The finance minister noted that over 86 per cent of rank-and-file members of the JCF who voted “cast their vote in support of the public sector compensation restructuring reform in the form of the government’s offer”.

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