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  • State Minister for Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Fayval Williams, hopes the 2017/19 wage negotiations between the Government and unions representing public-sector workers will be conducted as smoothly as those which resulted in the existing two-year agreement.
  • It is expected that wage negotiations for the 2017/19 period between the Government and public-sector workers will begin soon.
  • In her presentation, Mrs. Williams said the administration, while in Opposition, was “very heartened” by the high level of maturity demonstrated by all parties involved in the 2015/17 negotiations.

State Minister for Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Fayval Williams, hopes the 2017/19 wage negotiations between the Government and unions representing public-sector workers will be conducted as smoothly as those which resulted in the existing two-year agreement.

Similar views have been expressed by Head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Danny Roberts.

Both were speaking at the Institute’s recent public forum hosted under the theme ‘Public Sector Workers: Expectations Beyond March 2017’.

It is expected that wage negotiations for the 2017/19 period between the Government and public-sector workers will begin soon.

The administration is endeavouring to reduce the public wage bill to nine per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), one of the key International Monetary Fund (IMF) benchmarks under the existing four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF), which concludes in March 2017.

In her presentation, Mrs. Williams said the administration, while in Opposition, was “very heartened” by the high level of maturity demonstrated by all parties involved in the 2015/17 negotiations.

She said their recognition of the need to make sacrifices to achieve the EFF’s objectives was laudable.

The State Minister emphasised that as a new round of negotiations is embarked on, “I can only ask for the same level of maturity (to be displayed).”

Citing the Government’s 2018/19 timeline to reduce public-sector wages to nine per cent of GDP, she pointed out that “the good news is, we are expected to end this fiscal year at about 9.6 per cent”.

In his remarks, Mr. Roberts said the prevailing macroeconomic environment does not place the Government in a position “to meet the kind of expectations I am hearing from public-sector workers”.

In this regard, he expressed the hope that a “new paradigm” in the discourse can be found “that minimises the need for the contentious, adversarial, acrimonious debate that normally accompanies our collective-bargaining process”.

Mr. Roberts said there is the need to determine “a new path that begins to address the problem, not only immediately, but also in the long term”.