Wed | Jul 24, 2019

Gov't and Police Federation sign wage agreement

Published:Saturday | December 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Corporal Arlene McBean (left), chairperson of the Jamaica Police Federation, in discussion with Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service, at the signing of heads of agreement between the Government and the federation. The signing took place at the finance ministry’s Heroes Circle, Kingston, office yesterday.

After almost two years of torrid, and, at times, heated negotiations, yesterday, the Government and the Jamaica Police Federation signed a heads of agreement, which covers the contract periods 2017-2019 and 2019-2021.

"We are pleased, based on the mandate from the rank-and-file members of the force and the unanimous decision to accept the offer from the Government. And while we are not totally at the target, but close to it, we appreciate it, and we have accepted by signing," stated Jamaica Police Federation chairperson Corporal Arlene McBean.

She said that other areas that were under negotiation, and which were met through the negotiation process, assisted members to accept the Government's offer.

Rank-and-file members will receive a 16 per cent increase in salaries and allowances in line with other civil service groups. It will also cover the vexing issue of retroactive payment.

"We are expecting our members to get some monies in their pockets before the year end, and that is for the period 2017-2018," said McBean.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke said that although the process was long and difficult, he was pleased that amicable agreements were reached on the vital components of the negotiations.

"There is always darkness before the dawn, something of a truism of life, and it's no less true here. We just had some last-mile issues to sort out, and those issues were sorted out," Clarke told reporters at his Heroes Circle, Kingston, office yesterday.

"The agreement covers a number of areas. Not everything has to do with compensation. There are certain things that are service-related - some related to conditions of work, and so forth - and we were able to find a combination of items that over a period of time, met the satisfaction of the members of the force."

 

COMMISSION TO DEAL WITH NEGOTIATIONS

 

The minister said that a commission could be set up in the future to deal with wage negotiations in line with First World standards but noted that that could only be the case if the country developed a sustained low and predictable inflation.

"Our negotiations about wages and compensation over all these years have taken place in the context of high-inflation regimes. For other countries that have a history of long and stable inflation, the wage and salary part of their negotiations is quite straightforward and simple," said Clarke.

He noted that because Jamaica has had a long relationship with inflation, and low inflation is yet to be entrenched, the wage component of negotiations can take a long time, as in this case.

"However, once we have low and predictable inflation entrenched, it is my view that a commission that is representative of both the ministry and the federation, and which could include, for example, retired persons from the police force or civil society, could set compensations. That's what happens in other countries, and it's where Jamaica needs to move," the finance minister stated.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com