New wage agreement signed between SAJ and port-worker unions
A new wages and fringe benefits agreement has been signed between the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) and the unions representing stevedores employed by the association at the Port of Kingston after just five meetings.
The new agreement covers the period November 1, 2016, to October 31, 2019. It was signed on November 30 at a meeting of the Joint Industrial Council for the shipping industry at the SAJ's Newport West offices by the SAJ, representing port employers; and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, the United Portworkers and Seamen's Union, and the Trade Union Congress.
National Workers' Union vice-president Granville Valentine said that he was gratified by the spirit of the negotiations, noting that the best results always emerge when the issue is of great importance to both parties involved.
"If SAJ loses, we all lose, so as a team, we must have one objective, and with a continuation of the current spirit and genuine nature of our deliberations, then there is no mountain that we cannot climb together," he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Wesley Nelson, vice-president of the BITU, who reconfirmed the commitment of his union to the growth of the Port of Kingston. Growth, he emphasised, should be done to the benefit of the country, with fairness to workers as the hallmark.
SAJ's Chief Executive Officer Trevor Riley, who served as chief management negotiator, commended the union officers and delegates as well as members of the management team representing the broad SAJ membership for their dedication to crafting an agreement that is fair to all parties.
"We have had very good union officers around this table, and we really commend you for your work. The SAJ has always had a very good relationship with the trade unions, and even when we have had our strong differences, we have been able to produce historic agreements that are a model of good industrial-relations practice for any industry to follow. The last one was our four-year agreement, which was quite a record for our industry and many others in this country. This one is also a record breaker as it marks the first time in the association's history that the parties were able to conclude wage negotiations in such a short period," said Riley.
President of the SAJ Kim Clarke noted that management and the unions had long realised their shared interest in the port's prosperity and welcomed the agreement, adding that this augured well for the continued stability of labour on the port, a noted feature of the value that the SAJ had brought to the shipping industry decades ago and which has enabled the port to expand and serve the global shipping community in an orderly way.