Government is expected to pay out over $430 million to members of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica (NAJ), in additional salaries and allowances, based on an agreement signed at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) Tuesday (December 1).
The new agreement will cover the two-year period, April, 2008 to March, 2010, and became necessary because the NAJ, which represents registered nurses (tertiary trained nurses), did not participate in the negotiations on MOU3, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) signed in April, 2008.
The NAJ has been negotiating outside the umbrella of the JCTU since 2006, however, its members will receive the same 15 per cent increase on salaries which was paid to other public sector workers under MOU3. The nurses had submitted a 42-point claim, 35 points of which were agreed upon, including salaries and allowances such as uniforms, meal, taxi and housing allowances.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator the Hon. Arthur Williams and President of the NAJ, Edith Allwood-Anderson were at the signing.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles (left) shaking hands with President of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica (NAJ), Edith Allwood-Anderson (right), following the signing of a new Heads of Agreement for registered nurses at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, North Street, Kingston on Tuesday (December 1). Looking on at centre is Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator, the Hon. Arthur Williams, who was also a signatory. Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer participated in the signing as well.
Mr. Charles said the settlement was really a compromise made between the Government and the nurses, whom he praised for “carrying on a job which is most vital to our country”.
He lamented that the country could not afford to pay them more for their sacrifices. He singled out the NAJ President as a “tough negotiator, a fearless fighter, (and) a person who has represented her constituents very well.”
Mr. Spencer said that while the settlement might not have been what the nurses wanted, it was a matter of “giving and taking” in the context of what the government could afford in the current economic crisis.
He also assured the nurses that a team will meet with Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, to discuss implementation of the wage package.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles (second left) talking with President of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica, (NAJ),. Edith Allwood-Anderson (right), while Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer (left) and Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator the Hon. Arthur Williams (second right) join in. Occasion was the signing of the NAJ’s Heads of Agreement at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, North Street, Kingston on Tuesday (December 1).
Senator Williams said that he was satisfied that the parties had reached the best settlement in the circumstances.
“I want to commend all concerned, including the NAJ, for bringing us to this stage, and I hope that we can now move on in an atmosphere of respect, and with the best interest of Jamaica at heart,” he proposed.
Mrs. Allwood-Anderson thanked all who supported the NAJ in its negotiations, and noted that the NAJ members would cautiously accept the agreement.