Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller thanked public sector workers for the understanding that they demonstrated over the long and difficult negotiations culminating with the signing of the heads of agreement with public sector unions and associations for the 2010-2012 contract period.
At the signing ceremony at Jamaica House on Thursday May 31, Mrs Simpson Miller said, “Most of public sector workers were called upon to make a sacrifice in support of the national economic programme".
The Prime Minister said that in turn, the government remains committed to responsible fiscal management and achieving a targetted percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the cost of public service, saying that this approach is essential to restore the economy to a path of sustainability.
She highlighted the administration’s commitment saying, "Under the agreement the government commits to the principle of free collective bargaining during this, and successive our administration has the utmost respect for the collective bargaining process."
Mrs Simpson Miller said that the agreement holds the government to a programme of low redundancies for the civil service and hinted at the direction for ongoing discussions saying that housing solutions for public sector workers would be addressed; and pension reforms will now consider the position of District Constable as a pensionable post.
In her remarks, Vice President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Helene Davis Whyte, said that the public sector workers were “not happy but will play our part”. She said that the going forward, the confederation would be moving towards new approaches to negotiations, including “interest-based based bargaining”.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Peter Phillips, noted that protecting public sector jobs at this time safeguarded families and was a benefit to the government. He said that the government is moving to modernise the public sector through innovation and building trust.
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Horace Dalley, stated the four pillars on which the negotiations rested: the country’s high debt to GDP ratio; the high fiscal deficit; the ongoing low economic growth; and extended low employment.
Among the bargaining units that signed the agreement were the Nurses Association of Jamaica; the Jamaica Civil Service Association; the Union of Schools Agricultural and Allied Workers; the Jamaica Workers Union; the Union of Technical and the Union of Technical Administrative and Supervisory Personnel; several unions representing educational officers, and librarians; public health inspectors and paramedics; air traffic controllers and correctional officers.
Negotiations for the 2012 period have started.
Contact: Communications Unit-OPM