Public-sector groups won't ink wage deal without cops
The three public-sector groups which most recently agreed to the Government's latest wage-increase offer have opted to delay signing as they express solidarity with the Police Federation.
During a joint press conference yesterday, the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), the Nurses' Association of Jamaica (NAJ), and the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) disclosed that they would not be attending any signing ceremony until the Police Federation accepts the Government's offer.
JMDA President Dr Shane Alexis told journalists at the JTA's Kingston offices that the groups are concerned about the way the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has responded to the rejection of the latest offer by the Police Federation.
"The manner in which one group is dealt with will affect all, and as a result, in consulting with the leaders here, none of our groups will sign or attend a signing ceremony for the arrangement until the federation has concluded their own consultations and submitted to the Government their final position," Alexis said.
Need for dialogue
He argued that the joint decision was based on the need for dialogue, which, he said, has not been recognised over the years.
"We have to stand for principles, and that principle is there must be consultation without interference or prejudice by any group," Alexis charged.
"And the fact that there is a difference of opinion does not mean any group should be singled out, or that they should be discriminated against in any way, and we find the turn of events unfortunate."
The federation accepted the proposal to begin payment of the seven per cent in September, but rejected the payment schedule for retroactive sums.
In response to the federation's rejection of the State's proposal, junior minister with responsibility for the public service, Senator Arthur Williams, had said the Government made its best offer and would not treat any group differently.
But that upset members of the groups who said that by not signing the agreement, they were sending a signal that it was not over.
"This will send a message to everyone that it is not just business as usual. Once there is a process of deliberation, it should not be prejudiced in any way, as, as a result of that, it could have derailed the entire process,"Alexis added.
JTA President Nadine Molloy-Young and Anthonette Patterson, president of the NAJ, said the groups were far from happy with the handling of the matter.
"We are in no way pleased at where we are in the strictest sense of the word. These monies are owing to us, and we would have preferred if these payments were coming to us in less than 26 months," she argued.
Patterson added: "Public-sector workers are still uncomfortable, even though we have agreed to accept the proposal that has been made by the Government. We still have a number of concerns."
The Government had proposed implementing the outstanding seven per cent increase in September, with one month retroactive pay for the current financial year being made at that time, and the remaining five months being paid in December.
The Government had also proposed to pay the outstanding two years of retroactive salaries over three years in five tranches, starting in 2012, or in three tranches over three years starting 2012.
Five of nine public-sector groups have accepted the Government's proposal following consultations with their members.
The Gleaner was unable to get a comment from Williams as he was said to be off the island.