Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Public Sector Unions to Meet to Discuss Conditions for Future Negotiations

Published:Wednesday | September 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Public-sector trade unions have been invited to meet with the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute today to discuss a set of proposals designed to influence a review of the existing agreement between the Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Danny Roberts, head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute, said with a settlement on basic salaries and wages largely agreed on between public-sector unions and the Government up until 2017, the next five years are going to be crucial since the wage bill is expected to decline from 9.8 per cent to nine per cent and remain at that figure for the period up until 2020-21. He said the IMF agreement contemplates a marginal increase in the nominal amount projected for the public-sector wage bill from $165.2 billion to $235.8 billion, but that this is projected on an average growth rate over the next five years of 2.5 per cent per annum.

He noted that the country has never grown by 2.5 per cent in any five -year period over the last 30 years, and with the global economy still performing below expectation it is going to be impossible for Jamaica to achieve this under the existing fiscal arrangements.

The trade union institute is on record as advocating for a review of the IMF agreement at the halfway stage of the programme. "We have argued that the primary objectives set out in the programme are not being met and that some conditions must be adjusted if the country is to achieve the level of economic growth to accommodate a better wages and salaries settlement for public-sector workers in the future," said Roberts.

He noted that the purpose of the discussion forum is to get all public-sector unions to sign off on a set of recommendations to be embodied in the form of a resolution. "This, we believe, would send a powerful signal to the Government and the IMF that there is a broad consensus among Jamaican workers that a review of the programme is fiercely urgent."