THE EDITOR, Sir:
Finally, the long-awaited and controversial health-sector reclassification has been implemented. Indeed, such implementation has taken almost four years following the Industrial Disputes Tribunal's ruling in January 2010.
The mandate was that "Government immediately fix a date for the implementation ... ." Many health-sector personnel would have breathed a sigh of relief and been grateful for what they received at a time when public-sector employees have to grapple with another two years of wage freeze.
Conversely, many health personnel - particularly within the registered nurses' hierarchy - would have been very disgruntled. It must be emphasised that the fundamental objective of reclassification within a sector is to ensure equity.
Equity is all about being remunerated at 100 per cent the value of your job, which is essentially done through a 'job-evaluation exercise'. Scores derived from the job-evaluation process are critical in categorising jobs in salary bands to which financial values are assigned.
It is important to note that values assigned to jobs within the reclassified groups should not be done arbitrarily. Instead, a benchmarked salary band should be assigned a value, followed by the ensuing calibration process or systematic assigning of financial values to the respective salary bands. Current market value is a key factor in determining job values.
We must be reminded that job values now being implemented are values of the job evaluation in 2009 - figures which inflation would have significantly eroded.
The low financial values assigned to salary bands in the final report of the health-sector reclassification (2009) were indicative that 80-90 per cent of health-sector groups would not benefit.
It is now obvious that the available J$7 billion has been inequitably distributed among health-sector personnel, causing much disparity and controversy regarding salaries. For example, some personnel who earned yearly increments to take them to the top of their salary scales were placed with their junior counterparts at the bottom of the reclassified salary scales.
In such instances, the more junior personnel - moving to an equivalent point in their salary scales - would benefit twice as much compared to their senior counterparts moving down from the top of the respective scales.
While we are grateful that it has been implemented for a start, this reclassification mess must be cleaned up.