KINGSTON, Jamaica — National Water Commission(NWC) workers are now converged at the NWC head office on Marescaux Road in protest over an outstanding reclassification exercise as well as the ongoing public sector compensation review.
“We want wi money, wi want we money. Di minister say him nuh memba we. A 25 years and dem nuh memba mi!” That was the chant of one worker.
Informing OBSERVER ONLINE that piped water across the island will not be turned on until their demands are met, another worker stated that they have been working for “little to no pay.”
“We not gonna turn on the water. We are staying right out here till justice has come. We are at the bottom of the table when it comes on to payment. We need better basic pay, we are not getting what we are supposed to get. Our benefits, our allowances – nothing. We want better basic pay and we want our reclassification money from way back when. I am here how long, and from ’96, ’97 we get reclassification money and there is no more.”
She stated that they have been demanding reclassification since 2008, but have heard nothing since.
“Each time we go to the table, we hear that we are not government workers when we fi get benefit. But once we are not to get benefits, we hear that we are government workers. We need better. We need justice.”
Another worker told OBSERVER ONLINE that NWC employees are tired of making sacrifices with no reward.
“We need justice, Mr (Nigel) Clarke. All the time a we sacrifice. Mr Clarke, you need fi go back and look inna yuhself. Water a di most essential ting inna di country and we have a water minister, so why we don’t fall under that? We a nuh idiot and we a nuh fool. We need justice. We need we compensation.”
Approximately 2,000 employees of NWC went on strike this morning, demanding a response from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service on their request for a reclassification of their services.
According to the President of the Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers (JALGO), Helen Davis Whyte, one of several trade unions which represent the workers, while the reclassification has been stalled, the workers have now learnt that they will not benefit from the current Compensation Review.
“It is really a question that enough is enough for them, and they need to have this resolved once and for all. So they have decided to take action as of this morning,” she told OBSERVER ONLINE.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is expected to call an emergency meeting to conciliate the issue sometime today.
Many customers across the island have already started experiencing water disruptions.