The Full Story
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Government is looking to proceed with the Public Sector Compensation Review within the targeted timeline next year.
The review is intended to overhaul the structure of salaries and other emoluments in the public service to make it more equitable.
“We have made a commitment to begin implementation in April, and we will not [allow] anything to stop us from doing that,” he stated.
Dr. Clarke was speaking during Wednesday’s (December 22) Heads of Agreement signing with six additional unions/bargaining units representing public sector workers for the Government’s four per cent wage offer for the 12-month period, from April 2021 to March 2022.
The signing took place at the Finance Ministry’s offices in Kingston.
Dr. Clarke said the impending review is an ambitious reform and a “once in a generation” opportunity to undertake an exercise of its magnitude.
He pointed out that with 31 bargaining units representing some 80,000 public sector employees, or approximately 80 per cent of the workforce, having accepted the Government’s offer, and in anticipation that the number for the others will “substantially increase” shortly, “our attention will turn to putting in place the steps that can allow for the beginning of the implementation of the compensation review.”
“That is going to require meetings with… the bargaining groups… and we don’t have a lot of time. If we are to start implementation in April, it means that over the next few months, we will need to transition from this phase, where we are dealing with the wage agreement for this year, into this longer-term reform that we have spent the last nearly three and a half years working on, with the help of consultants,” the Minister stated.
Against this background, Dr. Clarke said “very early in the New Year, [the bargaining units] can expect us to reach out [to them] for us to apply a very broad set of principles [that] we have shared with you, to the situation that we face in Jamaica.”
He maintained that to the extent there are bargaining units with outstanding agreements for the current contract period, will not prevent the review from commencing in April, emphasising that “too many people have invested too much in that process for it to be derailed.”
“But we can only do it with the [support of the] leadership [of the unions], and I look forward… to be dialoguing with you… as we seek, now, to move Jamaica into a better place than we have been [in] before,” the Minister stated.
The latest groups accepting the four per cent offer are: the Nurses Association Jamaica (NAJ); Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA); Association of Academic Staff at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (ASACASE); Jamaica Midwives Association (JMA); Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE); and Jamaica Association of Education Officers (JAEO), which represent a combined 10,000 workers.