BITU says 'yes' to performance-based pay... But says jobs and purse need review
Kavan Gayle, the president general of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), said on Wednesday that he supports the proposal for the introduction of a performance management system in the public sector to drive efficiency, but said that the Government will have to demonstrate its willingness to pay more to workers who go beyond the call of duty.
"If you are going to go to a performance-based mechanism, you will have to demonstrate the level of commitment that you are going to pay if people actually exceed the performance target. It is unfair for you to have the mechanism in place, but you are not prepared to pay if they exceed performance," Gayle said.
Patricia Francis, chair of the Public Sector Transformation Committee, told The Gleaner that the performance management system is part of the negotiations that is currently taking place between public sector workers and the Government. She said it is part of a move to transform the public sector to ensure optimal service delivery.
Gayle said that system cannot be a one size fits all, arguing that different agencies, departments and ministries have different mandates, targets and levels of administration.
"It is also going to be very difficult to establish a performance-based pay system without having to look at the different roles within the public sector and defining explicitly those roles," Gayle, who is also an Opposition senator, said.
"I am not against applying reward mechanism of pay based on the jobs, but you have to revisit the value of the jobs and redefine a lot of the roles in the public sector. For sometime now, the Government has been advancing the argument of the performance mechanism to be ascribed to pay scales, but you have to first determine the value of the jobs in the public sector and then you apply the performance mechanism," Gayle said.
"It is something that we are willing to engage in a discussion on. We want to ensure that the objectives are very clear in terms of improving the efficiency of the services provided by the public sector, and also to reward employers against their efficiency once the Government is committed to pay," he added.
He argued that there will also be a need to start levelling the playing field within the public sector, which could mean increasing salaries to benchmark them with salaries paid in the private sector for similar jobs.
"You have a group of workers; the value of their jobs has not improved over a period of time because of wage restraint. The role and the scope of the job would have changed. You will have to revalue the job to get a level playing field before you start applying the performance mechanism," Gayle said.
In its last assessment of Jamaica's economic programme, the International Monetary Fund said Jamaica should speed up public sector reform, and suggested that the country revisit the compensation structure across skills level to match pay with market comparators.