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Stabroek News

Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) awaits new salary offer from Government
published: Monday | August 21, 2006

Petrina Francis, Staff Reporter


Allwood-Anderson

The Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) is expected to know today if the Ministry of Finance and Planning has made any changes to its salary and fringe benefits offer.

"We are expecting to be sent a response from the Ministry of Finance through the Ministry of Labour tomorrow and based on that, a meeting will be conveyed on Wednesday," Edith Allwood-Anderson, president of the NAJ, said yesterday.

Asked if the NAJ was optimistic that it would get a favourable response from the Finance Ministry, Mrs. Allwood-Anderson said her association's executive members will peruse the document "and see what is taking place".

The organisation had given the Government until June 30 to complete a wage and fringe benefits settlement, promote nurses who have been acting in positions for more than six months and provide a scarcity allowance for them.

The Government had offered the nurses 22 per cent over two years for levels three and up, and 24 per cent over two years for levels one and two nurses.

However, the nurses are requesting an 80 per cent pay increase in the first year and 40 per cent in the second year.

Protest action

But a letter was sent to the NAJ last month, stating that the Government could not offer the nurses any increase beyond what was previously proposed.

As a result, scores of nurses protested and stayed off the job on two different occasions, causing major disruptions in the health sector. Hospitals were forced to cancel elective surgeries, some outpatient clinics were closed, and only dire emergency cases were seen.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security intervened in the wage negotiations between the NAJ and the Ministry of Finance. The nurses then agreed to go back to work and have since been meeting with the ministries of Labour and Finance on a weekly basis.

Earlier this year the NAJ withdrew its membership from the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) to negotiate for salaries and fringe benefits for nurses on its own. They were among at least four unions that did not sign the second Memorandum of Understanding (MoU2) between the Government and the JCTU.

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