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Holness says unions should consider wage offer

Published:Friday | November 17, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

Despite a flat rejection by some unions of the Government's six per cent wage offer over two years, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is urging the groups representing public sector workers to reconsider their positions.

He said that the workers were being asked to make sacrifices again, "and the Government understands this very well".

According to the prime minister, within the context of what the administration was trying to achieve, it has made an offer it considers to be reasonable.

Conceding that extended delays in the current wage negotiations between the public sector and the Government could have a negative impact on the country's fiscal programme, the prime minister said yesterday that his administration was making urgent steps to resolve the wage issue.

The Police Federation, the Jamaica Teachers' Association, and the Nurses' Association of Jamaica have rejected the Government's wage offer.

"We never expected that the unions and the other stakeholders would, from day one, say, 'OK. It's reasonable'. There will always be a period of negotiation, a period of dialogue and communication, and an exploration of what possibilities there may be that could ease the acceptance," Holness said. He added, "And that process has not moved apace as I would have liked."

While providing some oversight for the negotiations, Holness said that he would allow the process to continue.

He indicated that the longer it took to determine the wage obligations to the public sector, the greater the level of fiscal uncertainty that could arise.

"We are going to try and move as quickly as possible to have the wage negotiations resolved, and I want to use this platform to appeal to the unions to consider the Government's offer and to reassure them that the Government will always maintain a respectful and collaborative stance in the negotiations."