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BOJ workers spurn 15% wage hike

Published:Wednesday | May 18, 2022 | 12:12 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter

More than 300 Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) workers have rejected a proposed 15 per cent salary increase, triggering a fresh round of talks between the central bank and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) amid a tense industrial climate across the...

More than 300 Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) workers have rejected a proposed 15 per cent salary increase, triggering a fresh round of talks between the central bank and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) amid a tense industrial climate across the country.

The BOJ, in a May 13 email sent to staff and seen by The Gleaner, proposed that the salary scale for each grade/level at the bank be adjusted to commence the phased reduction of deep salary overlaps.

It also proposed a four per cent increase on the new salary scales and said that this would be in keeping with the settlements in the public sector. The increase was scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2021.

Additionally, the BOJ offered a 10.5 per cent increase, which would have taken effect in April, moving salaries to the 50th percentile of the target market.

“Cumulatively, therefore, the proposed movements, once agreed to, would have the effect of an average increase of 15 per cent in salaries. In the instances where the increases fall below the average, special steps have been taken to ensure a minimum of 15 per cent,” workers were told.

But the proposal was rejected last week, BITU President Kavan Gayle told The Gleaner, on the basis that data acquired two years ago through a market review done by an international company should not have been used to determine the extent of the increase.

Gayle is insisting that the increase should have been implemented earlier under the assumption that the market would have moved.

Furthermore, he said that the union – which represents three bargaining units, including ancillary, non-clerical and clerical staff, supervisors, and assistant directors – considers the adjustment an entitlement because it is a market shift that workers should have received before now.

“So it’s not a real increase. Your real increase should come out of cost-of-living adjustments. So, in addition to the market adjustment, there should be another adjustment because we assume that the workers should have been earning this. So that deals with the value of the job and not their real increase,” Gayle argued.

He said, too, that the four per cent increase was rejected because the trade union had submitted claims for negotiations “that are over and above” that figure.

“So, on those principles, we have rejected it and we’ve said let’s continue the discussions,” he said in a Gleaner interview on Monday.

However, he has refused to divulge the percentage increase workers are demanding, as well as the other benefits.

“It’s for the bank to respond to us, but we’re continuing the discussions… . We will take from them (workers) a position or mandate but our intention is to continue these deliberations to come up with some sort of understanding,” Gayle said, adding that industrial action is not on the table.

In an emailed response to a Gleaner query, the central bank said that it presented proposals to staff representative groups regarding salary adjustments for the contract period April 2021 to March 2023.

It said only some bargaining units are comfortable with the proposals and that discussions will continue as part of the collective bargaining arrangements.

“As such, we cannot provide more information at this time,” the bank said.

The BOJ said that it is working towards the implementation of an organisational structure and compensation review this fiscal year in keeping with timelines for public-sector groups.

It said actual implementation timelines for the compensation review will depend upon the successful conclusion of the collective bargaining process.