'This is a fair offer' - Shaw says Gov't cannot do more for public sector workers
With the 23,000-strong Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) and the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), both rejecting the Government's latest four-year wage offer, Finance and the Public Service Minister Audley Shaw has insisted that the administration has placed a good offer on the table to public sector workers.
Yesterday, Shaw publicly thanked junior doctors, senior doctors, the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, and certain categories of nurses for signing the Government's four-year wage offer. Under this contract, public sector workers will receive increases of five per cent in year one, two per cent in year two, four per cent in year three, and five per cent in the fourth year.
The finance minister argued that when performance-based increments are taken into consideration, public-sector workers could end up with combined increases of 26 per cent over four fiscal years, ending 2020-2021.
Shaw also pointed out that the Government has sought to "ease the burden" on public sector workers by reducing pension contributions from 2.5 per cent in the first and second years by allowing a one per cent payment over five years.
Highlighting the case of the police, Shaw said the increase in the PAYE threshold to 1.5 per cent resulted in an average increase of eight per cent more in net pay to this group. "In the case of the police, their (annual) increment is three per cent, and their increase will be 28 per cent over the four years. Additionally, the finance minister noted that the average increase for the police from the $1.5 million adjustment to the threshold is eight per cent in net pay. This, he said, takes the total increase for the police to 36 per cent over the four-year period.
"For the teachers, the increase in the PAYE (pay as you earn) threshold results in an average 10 per cent increase," Shaw declared. He insisted that with the Government's wage offer, the nation's teachers would receive 26 per cent over four years, in addition to the 10 per cent from the income tax threshold, pushing it to 36 per cent.