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Unions demand government begin wage negotiations for public workers

Published:Tuesday | March 10, 2015 | 4:34 PM
Doran Dixon

Two unions, representing more than 70,000 public workers, are demanding that the government begin negotiations to establish new wage agreements.

Come March 31, a five-year wage freeze will end and the government has indicated there will be no extension.

The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) says if that date passes and there is no new agreement in place, it will consider it an extension of the wage freeze.

And the union’s president, Doran Dixon, says teachers are frustrated.

He says a committee that could authorise industrial action will be set up to consider what steps to take to pressure the government.

Meanwhile, the vice-president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Helene Davis-Whyte says members want an agreement in place quickly.

The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre understands that there's been a delay in starting formal wage talks because government negotiators are still clarifying wage claims submitted by some unions.

The JTA is asking the government for a 25 per cent increase in basic wages for the more than 30,000 teachers in the public education system.

And the JCTU, which represents 40,000 public sector workers, has asked for a 30 per cent increase.

The government has warned that it will not allow any new wage agreement to threaten economic reforms under the current programme with the International Monetary Fund.