Sat | Dec 15, 2018

PM's fringe benefits appeal eases tension between Government and teachers

Published:Wednesday | January 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has directly informed the leadership of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) that favourable consideration is now being given to the fringe benefits package currently before the Cabinet.

However, JTA President Georgia Waugh Richards says that the prime minister has asked the JTA to wait until Cabinet returns from a three-day retreat starting today for a response to the percentage increase in basic wage.

"He (Holness) stated that he understands the concerns of the teachers and he wants to bring speedy resolution to this negotiation. We, therefore, believe that as an association, we have made some inroads, we have seen the light, so, we now await the information out of Cabinet retreat this Friday," Waugh Richards.

Waugh Richards added that subsequent to the prime minister's call, the JTA engaged in a meeting with other government officials, who reiterated Holness' claim.

The prime minister's intervention into the stalemate over teacher wage negotiations comes only a few days after the JTA issued a statement accusing the Government of employing delay tactics, after several meetings with the Ministry of Finance saw no improvement on the six-per-cent-over-two-years offer.

 

WORKING ON A RESOLUTION

 

At a press conference on Friday, the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions then indicated that there could be widespread "sickness" across the public sector this week if the outcome of Monday's Cabinet meeting to discuss wage increases is not favourable.

However, speaking with the Gleaner-Power 106 news centre yesterday, union president Helene Davis Whyte said that Holness made contact on Monday afternoon to indicate that Cabinet had begun considering the issue and was working on a resolution that was favourable to both parties.

"The unions in the spirit of negotiation agreed to wait, so, everything is on hold pending the outcome of the Cabinet retreat," said Davis Whyte.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com