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No new wage increases for gov't - Dalley

Published:Thursday | July 4, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Horace Dalley, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, on Tuesday blasted Robert Montague for questions he tabled in the Senate two weeks ago regarding whether government ministers and other members of parliament (MPs) had benefited from salary increases since January 2012.

"Mischievous is too kind a word to describe the intent of the senator," Dalley said. He called Montague's questions a "misguided political attempt to undermine" the relationship between Government and public-sector workers.

"No new wage increases have been granted to anybody, including parliamentarians and ministers and their staff," Dalley affirmed. His comment was met with thunderous applause from the government benches, supported by opposition Member of Parliament James Robertson.

"It is mischievous for a former cabinet minister, who knows all of this, to have said that this administration took wage increases for ourselves," Dalley said.

The North Clarendon MP said the Government contemplated ignoring the questions as Montague was a cabinet minister in the Bruce Golding-led administration that granted the last salary increase on April 1, 2008.

"Since then, there has not been any increase in salaries to public-sector workers," Dalley said.

He reminded parliamentarians that a wage agreement was signed in 2008-2010 which provided for a 15 per cent increase in the first year and seven per cent in the second year.

He noted that the first year's payment was made in accordance with the agreement, but following a wage freeze, the seven per cent was not paid. Dalley noted that, following agitation by workers, an agreement was reached in 2011 for the payment of the seven per cent.

PUBLIC SECTOR

According to Dalley, the agreement has been honoured with payment made to all public-sector workers, including parliamentarians, in May 2012, October 2012 and May 2013. He said two other tranches of payment are to be paid in October and again in May 2014.

"This is what this new Portia Simpson Miller administration is honouring and they are the same rates that were signed by Prime Minister Golding, former Minister of Finance (Audley) Shaw and former Minister without portfolio Arthur Williams," Dalley said.