Tue | Jun 28, 2022

Civil service union to withdraw strike notice

Published:Friday | May 13, 2022 | 5:32 PM
Minister of Finance, Dr Nigel Clarke (left), converses with Jamaica Civil Service Association President, O'Neil Grant, at the virtual launch of the Marcus Garvey Public Sector Scholarship Programme at the Ministry's offices in Kingston on July 29, 2020 – Contributed photo

The Jamaica Civil Service Association says it will be withdrawing a notice that its more than 30,000 members who are government workers, would strike on Monday. 

The development follows a meeting between the union and Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, today. 

The JCSA issued a 72-hour strike notice on Thursday, claiming that the finance ministry had not been properly addressed its concerns about the ongoing compensation review, and an outstanding wage claim.  

Both Clarke and the JCSA president O'Neil Grant have issued statements. 

READ MORE: Ultimatum: Civil servants give Monday deadline for industrial action

Grant said his union has received assurances from Clarke that the outstanding wage claim for the period 2021-2022 period "will be speedily addressed in good faith". 

And he said the finance minister expressed "openness" to getting feedback on the proposed discontinuation of JCSA-negotiated benefits. 

The government has proposed to change compensation for the public sector and that includes potentially removing benefits such as concessionary loans, education grants, tuition refunds,  qualifications increments, motor vehicle duty concession and various over transportation allowances.

"The JCSA is satisfied that the concerns expressed in our recent correspondence have been materially addressed and looks forward to the settlement of its 2021/22 claim ahead of the implementation of the compensation review," Grant said. 

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Clarke said today's meeting was an opportunity for frank dialogue and discussion. 

Clarke's involvement followed the JCSA's frowning on a response Wednesday from the ministry's Financial Secretary Darlene Morrison that the union said was "not very respectful". 

Dr Clarke said the JCSA's leadership felt strongly that the benefits to be discontinued should have been presented to them directly rather than through the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU). 

"I understand their position, and I understand how this may have led to a misinterpretation of our intent, though through the circumstances in which these were presented to the JCTU it is clear that no ill was intended," he said. 

The Finance Minister said he told the union that the government "must retain the right" to make proposals for the efficient use of state resources with an expectation that "civil discourses" will follow. 

But he said the position on the benefits issue was "is neither final nor non-negotiable". The JCSA felt the government had already decided to axe the perks. 

"The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service is simply grappling with the simple fact that the cost of delivering some of these benefits, on a per capita basis, is disproportional to what would be considered reasonable. In a country characterised by a chronic shortage of resources these realities cannot be ignored," Clarke explained. 

Both parties have committed to "strengthen the harmonious relationship" between them, starting with a meeting next Wednesday to commence a series of talks. 

The JCSA, however, said some of its members remain restive. 

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