JIS News

KINGSTON – Trade unions representing public sector employees have indicated their willingness to co-operate with the Public Sector Transformation Unit (PSTU), in executing the proposed restructuring exercise to be undertaken in the sector.

This was disclosed by Vice-President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), Helene Davis Whyte, following discussions on Friday (May 13) with a PSTU team regarding the impending staff reductions.

Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, had announced, during his 2011/12 Budget presentation in Parliament on Tuesday (May 10), recommendations from the PSTU for the restructuring. He said that it is proposed to reduce public sector employment from 118,163 to between 108,000 and 109,000, over a five-year period.

Speaking with JIS News Friday, Mrs. Davis Whyte, who is also General Secretary of the Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers (JALGO), said that the trade unions will continue to work with the Government in carrying out the rationalisation process.

"What we have in fact been advised is that the process of consultation and involvement of the unions will continue, and so the question of who is to go would flow from the finalisation  of the work on the ground, in terms of the structures, and we are comfortable with that," Mrs. Davis Whyte explained.

"What we want to be clear is that it is a consultative process, and that the workers are involved at every step of the game. We have confidence in the workforce, and it has been represented to us by members of the individual unions, as well, that they are also interested in ensuring that there is a modern, efficient public sector in place," she added.

She said that the unions would also seek to ensure that inter-disciplinary transformation teams established in each agency, ministry and department to see that the process, "really gets on the ground, begin the work and ensure that the staff is consulted, right across the length and breadth of Jamaica."

"This is something that we, as union leaders, would have been involved with in the private sector….so it is not something that we are opposed to, in terms of seeking to ensure that we have efficiencies in the operations of the departments and agencies of Government," she said.

The JCTU Vice-President said she was pleased that several concerns, regarding the announcement, were resolved during the meeting, particularly in relation to the number of persons that would be affected by the rationalisation process.

She noted that Head of the PSTU, Patricia Sinclair McCalla, advised that that the number was an estimation from accounting firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers, which was requested to estimate how many workers were likely to be affected.

She said that the actual numbers would depend on the work that now has to be done, in terms of looking at the structures that would be required to operate individual agencies, departments and ministries.

She also stated that the issue of the seven per cent pay increase owed to public sector workers was also discussed, and a meeting is scheduled with Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, next week Tuesday (May 17).

BY ALECIA SMITH, JIS REPORTER