JIS News

Vice President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), Danny Roberts, has said that for Jamaica to become a developed country, a culture and awareness of productivity must permeate the society. “There must be a drive towards providing that productivity culture and awareness that engulfs and permeates the society so that we can all benefit from that process, both in terms of profitability and standards of living, because every country is judged on the basis of its development by the extent to which its workers’ standard of living improves,” he said.
“Productivity is the nearest thing in terms of accomplishing the higher standards of living and the improved welfare and wellbeing of the Jamaican people,” Mr. Roberts pointed out as he addressed the opening ceremony for National Productivity Awareness Week held recently at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
According to the trade unionist, recent studies done by the JCTU show that unless there is a level of productivity awareness and the development of a productivity culture at the national level, it is going to be much more difficult both at the enterprise and sector levels, to drive and maximize the productivity input.
“In the same way we have the Christmas culture and the dancehall culture and the carnival culture, we need to have a productivity culture where a worker going into the workplace understands the critical factors that are going to be important in terms of improving the quality of his performance,” he posited.
He said that at the heart of this process “lies our human capital and the way we treat it is going to be critical to the process of productivity improvement.”
According to Mr. Roberts, one of the challenges that trade unions face is to “get the society to understand and appreciate that productivity, certainly at the enterprise level, also has to do with how is it that you treat people.”
He said that managers need to understand that greater levels of productivity improvement cannot be achieved unless the workers are given “a sense of ownership, a sense of partnership, and a feeling of involvement in the production process.” He warned that, “if that does not happen, then you are going to inhibit any chance you may have of actualizing and maximizing your productivity potential.”
In addressing the issue of skills training, Mr. Roberts said that this is of critical importance if the Jamaican worker is to survive in the global world of competition. “We face the problem of lack of skills among our workforce. We need to up-skill our workforce,” he said.
Noting that factors outside of the workplace also affect the workers’ ability to perform on the job, the trade unionist said that: “we cannot ignore what happens in the communities, in the homes, in the wider society but we have to be involved in all of that because those things are important factors to driving our productivity.”
Turning to the matter of remuneration for workers, Mr. Roberts said that trade unions have “sought to move away from the adversarial approach to collective bargaining to the more cooperative and integrative approach because we recognize that unless there is value-added to the production process, it makes absolutely no sense to continue to argue for more wage increases for workers when that more is coming from less.”
National Productivity Awareness Week is being held under the theme: “Enhancing Living Standards through Productivity Growth.”