Unions upset

Published: Saturday | April 21, 2012 Comments 0
Derrick Kellier
Derrick Kellier

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

LABOUR MINISTER Derrick Kellier's announcement yesterday that public-sector employees should not expect a wage increase this fiscal year has drawn a strident response from some trade-union leaders who say his comments "send the wrong signal" and could influence the negotiating process for state workers.

President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Kavan Gayle, called Kellier's statement "unreasonable and unwarranted", noting that it comes before the start of negotiations for the 2012-2014 contract period and in the middle of the ongoing discussions between the Ministry of Finance and the unions that represent public-sector workers.

Gayle said his union was not prepared to accept the labour minister's position, arguing that such a position should have come out of the negotiating process or from the consultations with the finance ministry.

"Before the start of negotiations, you are indicating to us that we are not going to get anything, might as well you tell us don't come to the negotiations," he told The Gleaner yesterday.

Vice-president of the National Workers Union, Granville Valentine, is also concerned that Kellier's statement could influence state agencies that have the ability to pay.

"There are some government companies that I believe still have that ability (to pay), so it should not be a broad-brush approach where everyone in the public sector don't get anything," Valentine said.

imposed restrictions

Kellier, who was responding to questions from The Gleaner after he addressed a middle managers conference staged by the consultancy firm Make Your Mark at the Wyndham hotel in St Andrew, said an increase in public-sector wages could not be accommodated in the Budget "based on the restrictions that have been imposed".

He said based on the discussions between the finance ministry and the unions, public-sector workers "should have got the understanding by now that there will be no great leap in the status quo".

"It is not going to be increased in

any meaningful way ... hence the expectations need to be tempered in respect of any great movement (in salaries)," the labour minister cautioned.

Public-sector workers have been without a contract since the last agreement expired on March 31, 2010.

But Gayle said the BITU would be requesting a wage increase for the new two-year wage period that should have started in April this year on behalf of those workers it represents. He declined to disclose the level of increase that would be requested.

"One of the things that we take into consideration is restoring the purchasing power of public-sector workers that would have been lost or eroded over the last couple of years and the movement in inflation," he reasoned.

The Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), through its president Oneil Grant, disclosed yesterday that public-sector employees were asked by the former administration to forgo their wage increase for the 2012 to 2014 contract period.

However, Grant said the JCSA was now analysing the implications for public servants and how those concerns could be addressed.

Leaders haul Kellier over the coals for no wage increase comment any meaningful way ... hence the expectations need to be tempered in respect of any great movement (in salaries)," the labour minister cautioned.

Public-sector workers have been without a contract since the last agreement expired on March 31, 2010.

But Gayle said the BITU would be requesting a wage increase for the new two-year wage period that should have started in April this year on behalf of those workers it represents. He declined to disclose the level of increase that would be requested.

"One of the things that we take into consideration is restoring the purchasing power of public-sector workers that would have been lost or eroded over the last couple of years and the movement in inflation," he reasoned.

The Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), through its president Oneil Grant, disclosed yesterday that public-sector employees were asked by the former administration to forgo their wage increase for the 2012 to 2014 contract period.

However, Grant said the JCSA was now analysing the implications for public servants and how those concerns could be addressed.





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