Prime Minister Bruce Golding said Saturday November 20 that he is optimistic the recently appointed Public Sector Monitoring Committee (PSMC) will find a resolution to the issue of the seven percent pay increase owed to Government employees.
“I am hopeful, indeed, optimistically hopeful that with the monitoring committee now in place we are going to be able to find a way (to resolve the issue),” Mr. Golding told delegates of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) attending the union’s Triennial General Assembly, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
Mr. Golding said the committee must find a way to protect the sanctity of agreements between Government and its employees, while taking into consideration the context in which the Government has been unable to make the outstanding payments.
He said that the committee will have to construct something that will ensure that the workers are compensated for their efforts, while ensuring that the Government does not breach its agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and lose fiscal support from multilateral lending agencies which would lead to severe job cuts in the sector.
Newly re-elected President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Kavan Gayle (right), greets Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, as he arrived for Saturday’s November 20 BITU Triennial Assembly at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
The PSMC, chaired by Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Arthur Williams and comprising representatives of Government and trade unions is scheduled to meet on November 25.
Explaining the developments which have led to the failure to meet the payments since 2009, Mr. Golding said that the Government was committed to making them up to March, 2009, when the global economic crisis set in.
He exampled that with bauxite/alumina responsible for 50% of Jamaica’s exports, the closure of three of the four local plants led to a major fallout in exports earnings, a loss of $5 billion in taxes last year, in addition to income and education tax and GCT losses.
The situation has worsened with recent flood trains triggered by Tropical Storm Nicole creating severe structural damage. However, he explained that, while the IMF has been willing to accommodate additional spending on the most urgent problems created by the storm, it has stubbornly refused accommodating the $9 billion needed to pay the money owed to the public sector workers.
The delegates re-elected Kavan Gayle as president of the BITU, Wesley Nelson as senior vice-president and Alvin Sinclair and Alden Brown as vice-presidents.
In his presidential address, Mr. Gayle called for a “new deal” for workers that would protect their jobs and their benefits, and reiterated his union’s support for the recently resumed Partnership for Transformation discussions.
Other speakers at the meeting included Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Pearnel Charles. Chairman was vice-president, Alvin Sinclair.