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  • Financial Secretary, Devon Rowe, says negotiations for wages must be handled with great care to protect jobs in the public sector.
  • Mr. Rowe was delivering the keynote address for the opening session of the Jamaica Civil Service Association’s (JCSA) 96th Annual General Meeting on May 28 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
  • He encouraged the unions to stick with the negotiation process as it provides an opportunity to address issues that are important to the development of the public service.

Financial Secretary, Devon Rowe, says negotiations for wages must be handled with great care to protect jobs in the public sector.

“In the face of growth of 0.4 per cent (in 2014) we have to be careful in terms of how we agree to wages because they may not be sustainable. I think we need to engage in discussions that allow us to have a sustainable path for ensuring the protection of jobs of our public servants to ensure that we don’t threaten the viability of the public service,” he said.

Mr. Rowe was delivering the keynote address for the opening session of the Jamaica Civil Service Association’s (JCSA) 96th Annual General Meeting on May 28 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

Mr. Rowe was speaking against the background of public sector wage negotiations now underway. The Government has offered workers a five percent wage increase over two years, which the unions have rejected.

Mr. Rowe said that while the offer “may not be where we want it to be …it is (what) we can afford.”

He encouraged the unions to stick with the negotiation process as it provides an opportunity to address issues that are important to the development of the public service.

The Finance Secretary further noted that there is “the recognition in the Ministry of Finance that we need to change the compensation philosophy.”

He informed that a study is underway to examine the existing method “to ensure that the public sector can be made sustainable by offering wages that are (feasible) and that can be improved over time”.

Mr. Rowe said workers must also recognise that they have a responsibility to contribute to economic growth, “without which, the Finance Ministry is unable to pay out wages”.

President of the JCSA, O’Neil Grant, in his remarks, said the association “will be persistent, we will be consistent in the … advocacy of the (rights) of workers.”

President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), Lloyd Goodleigh, in the meantime, urged for measures to be put in place to tackle the challenges facing the Jamaican labour market.

“We are not going to get economic growth unless we have quality human resources,” he contended.

Citing labour market statistics, Mr. Goodleigh pointed out that a large percentage of the labour force has no formal training.

“In a globalised world in the middle of a technological revolution, we cannot have it. You can’t run a modern economy with that statistic,” he said.

Among specially invited guests were Managing Director for Damark Limited, Dwight Bromfield, who donated $200,000 to the JCSA, and Managing Director of Bloomfield Jamaica Limited, Glen Bromfield, who donated $500,000   towards the Glen Bromfield/JCSA Education Trust Fund.

The event was attended by members of the 12 chapters of the JCSA across the island.

The two-day meeting ended today (May 29), with a Business Session held at Jacisera Park in Kingston.