Thu | Dec 14, 2017

PSTOC co-chair suggests new approach to public sector wage talks

Published:Sunday | November 19, 2017 | 3:15 PM
Co-chair of the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee (PSTOC) Danny Roberts.

Co-chair of the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee (PSTOC), Danny Roberts, is suggesting that government and public sector unions adopt a new approach to wage negotiations.

In a release this afternoon, Mr Roberts said both parties might consider adopting the Interest-Based Bargaining Model, which is an alternative negotiating strategy in which both sides collaborate to find a ‘win-win’ solution to their dispute.

The noted trade unionist says the history of collective bargaining in the public sector has, by and large, been conjunctive.

He says neither government nor unions have been able to get the desired outcome from the negotiating process. 

The head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute says there is a need to reframe public sector wage negotiations to focus on positive outcomes.

Mr Roberts argues that there is need for the introduction of a new negotiating model that places emphasis on creating value and mitigating harm.

He reasons that a new negotiating model can result in a significant increase in nominal wage, even with bringing the wage bill down to nine per cent of GDP.

And the co-chair of the PSTOC says consultations with public sector workers over the ongoing transformation of the sector will commence next year.

Mr Roberts says the goal of the transformation exercise is not to cut jobs, even though it will be part of the process.

He says the aim is to create quality public service institutions that facilitate an environment that is conducive to economic growth and development and lead to quality jobs.

In the meantime, Mr Roberts says the wage talks need be accelerated. 

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has agreed that the pace of the wage talks has been unsatisfactory.

He says he has spoken with Finance Minister Audley Shaw with a view to finding a way to accelerate those talks.

The government has offered to pay public sector workers six per cent more over two years.

However, the majority of unions representing public sector workers have rejected the offer.