Senator Nelson Denies Public Sector Wage Freeze Reports


Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Dwight Nelson, has refuted media reports this morning of a decision by Government to freeze public sector salaries for the 2009/10 fiscal year, starting in April.
Addressing today’s (Feb. 11) post-Cabinet media briefing, at Jamaica House, Senator Nelson said that he made no such statement.
He added that no such decision has been made, or could be made without consultations with the trade unions representing Government employees.
The Minister explained that, during Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee of the Public Sector Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the challenges which the administration face regarding the execution of its fiscal programme, consequent on the global financial crisis, were outlined.
The financial downturn, he said, has negatively impacted on virtually every economy globally, including Jamaica’s and, in this regard, the need arises for the administration to examine how best to contain expenditure.
Senator Nelson noted that the public sector, with a workforce in excess of 100,000, and a wage bill of $111 billion, accounts for one of the largest areas of Government expenditure. This figure, he pointed out, is set to increase significantly, as of April 1, when the additional seven percent wage increase for public servants, negotiated in the third MoU, becomes effective, among other things.
“So, we told the trade unions, yesterday, and they accepted this, that the Government is going to have to examine all options as to how to ensure that the public sector wage bill is contained, develops greater efficiencies, becomes more competitive, more productive, (and) more of an enhanced mechanism for growth in the economy,” Senator Nelson stated.
“We made it abundantly clear, that we will sit with the trade unions, representing public sector employees, and have extensive discussions before any decision is made as to what to do,” he noted.
The Minister gave an assurance, yesterday, that all possible options, to this end, will be explored and discussed with all stakeholders, to determine the decision that will be taken.
“I have not passed any judgement on a wage freeze, so don’t interpret me to be making any such judgement,” Senator Nelson said.

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