JIS News

The Joint Industrial Council (JIC) for the building and construction industry recently signed a two-year wage agreement, which will see employees in the sector receiving a 21 per cent increase in wages and salaries.
The agreement, which was signed at the offices of the Incorporated Master Builders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ) in Kingston, took effect on February 1 and covers the period up to January 31, 2007. During the first year of the agreement, wages will increase by 12 per cent and go up by a further nine per cent during year two.
Signatories included representatives of the IMAJ, the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), the National Workers Union (NWU) and the Trade Union Congress (TRC). The bodies, together, comprise the JIC.
President of the IMAJ, Donald Mullings, said that the signing was “an historic occasion as it is the first time that a new agreement had been reached before the expiry of the existing one.” and this, he said, “avoids many problems to industry personnel… such as contractors, owners and workers.”
The agreement provides for an increase in insurance coverage for workers from $325,000 to $351,000; reclassification of the various trades resulting in a re-alignment of the grades of workers; change in rates of pay and introduction of several new categories to satisfy the requirements of the construction industry.
Mr. Mullings said that even though the agreement would take effect from February 1, employers have up until the pay week of February 28 to make the necessary changes to their employees’ wages and salaries.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley, who witnessed the signing, said that the three month-period within which the IMAJ and the trade unions had reached an agreement, should set the tone for other industries engaged in wage and fringe benefit negotiations.
In speaking to the competitiveness of the labour force in the construction industry, the Minister noted, “there is much talk about the CSME (CARICOM Single Market and Economy) and the preparation of the Jamaican workforce.there are 694,000 (employees) in the workforce at this time, and the construction industry. can compete anywhere in the Caribbean under the CSME.”
He noted however, that to effectively compete, workers must be certified. “Of course we have shortcomings,” the Minister noted, “and although [some] of the workforce. don’t have any certification, they have competence and they have a certain amount of skill and what we have to do as government, union, and employer is to ensure that our workers are further trained and certified. that is what HEART/NTA is about . to [have] these steel men, electricians, and masons, certified.”
“I have faith in the skill of the Jamaican worker, what we need to do collectivity as a country is to ensure that our workers are certified, ” the Minister emphasized.

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