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Assistance for job-cut victims

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Patricia Sinclair-McCalla, dubbed the public sector cutter-in-chief.

A number of initiatives, including an early-retirement incentive package, are to be implemented to assist persons who transition out of the public sector, a government spokesperson has said.

Chief executive officer of the Public Sector Transformation Unit, Patricia Sinclair-McCalla, who was addressing a think tank at the Jamaica Information Service's (JIS) Half-Way Tree Road offices on Tuesday, said the incentive package was still in the embryonic stage.

"As you would imagine, that will require a pool of funds to facilitate it. We have not been able to develop the entire programme as yet. I think we are going to be getting assistance with this particular package.

"What we need is to identify funds that the Government is able to sign off on to facilitate this," she said, noting that no further details could be disclosed until a meeting with the relevant stakeholders is held.

Sinclair-McCalla, who will coordinate the contraction of the civil service - which pundits predict could eliminate 15,000 jobs in the long term - told the government news agency, JIS, that discussions were also taking place with players in the business sector, including CEO of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation, Valerie Veira, to help persons identify business opportunities.

"What is now being considered is a special window at Dehring, Bunting and Golding (rebranded Scotia DBG) where a different set of criteria may have to be applied for public sector officers, who will transition out," Sinclair-McCalla revealed.

She said educational opportunities will also be available, and that executive director of the HEART Trust/NTA, Dr Carolyn Hayle, was developing an innovative training package.

Special loan window

"We are not just thinking about business. It could be the opportunity that I wanted to do teaching, nursing or accounting, so the next step for us is to discuss with the head of the Students' Loan Bureau to find out if a special window can be created.

"Only last week, we were scheduling meetings with the heads of tertiary-level institutions to ask how they can facilitate those who may seek the opportunity to go back to school," Sinclair-McCalla said.

In the meantime, she explained that a "multipronged approach" will be undertaken to streamline worker transition.

"We have been in discussions with psychologists and psychiatrists, who will be putting in a programme not just for those who are leaving, but for those who are staying, because it has a psychological impact whether you remain or you go, so we have to look at the mental health. The reality is it affects all of us so we have to treat with that very sensitively and sensibly," the public-sector transformation chief said.