Sun | Aug 20, 2017

JCSA members expect three per cent increase in April

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 3:00 AMEdmond Campbell

Head of the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), O'Neil Grant, says the union is expecting the payment of the three per cent increase to the 25,000 civil servants who are members of the union, in April, based on an agreement reached with the Government last year.

He told The Gleaner yesterday that the JCSA had not received any indication from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in relation to any difficulty that it may be having in meeting the April 2016 timeline for payment of retroactive amounts and the three per cent in Year Two of the negotiated agreement.

At the same time, State Minister for Finance and the Public Service Rudyard Spencer will today meet with public-sector unions to discuss, among other things, the three per cent increase due in April as well as retroactive sums to be paid to workers.

"We have heard some rumours, but we have been telling our members that there has not been any official or unofficial communication from the Ministry of Finance that it is having a difficulty in dealing with the increases come April, or with the retroactive amounts that have already been programmed."

Grant said although the full context of today's meeting with Spencer is not yet known, he believes the dialogue would set the framework within which the public-sector unions would interface with the Ministry of Finance.

He told The Gleaner that there have been challenges with some of the retroactive amounts for the smaller allowances, such as subsistence and duty, that have been increased.

"The pay stations are having some difficulties getting the information together because it's extremely time-consuming to go back and do the adjustments over seven months for every individual who has sent in a particular claim.

"Based on discussions with some of our internal auditors - they have informed me that they have, in fact, received the costing and they are auditing them with a view to have most of them completed by the end of April so that the workers can get their retroactive payments for those smaller allowances," he said.

 

NEGOTIATION ANXIETY

 

Grant said the membership of the JCSA has expressed anxiety over three items under the negotiated agreement.

He said the promised concession on bus fares for public-sector workers was yet to materialise. The JCSA head said an agreement was hammered out between the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, the Ministry of Finance, and the unions representing public-sector workers whereby concessionary rates on bus fares would be offered to public-sector workers.

He said it was agreed that the Government would have given a concessionary fare to public-sector workers effective September 2015. To date, this has not been implemented.

"We are far down the wicket and nothing has happened, and the workers are a little bit anxious about that."

Grant said the JCSA was still awaiting the expansion of the miscellaneous fund provision for public-sector workers to be able to borrow from their employer. He said this should have been wrapped up by the December quarter, last year. "We are still waiting for the provision to be expanded so that more workers could benefit from miscellaneous loans from their employer."

He said the public sector was also not comfortable with the pace of the payment of the refund of tuition.

"We are seeing where the Government, through its ministries, departments and agencies, has been very slow in satisfying the request for refund of tuition from the membership."

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com