Thu | Jun 8, 2023

PM: Let the industrial negotiation process work

Published:Saturday | May 14, 2022 | 12:10 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


With two major industrial groups having gone on strike this week and under the treat of a major strike in the civil service next week, Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday urging Jamaicans to let the country’s industrial negotiation processes proceed naturally.

Speaking during the official handover ceremony for the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s new Area Four Regional Headquarters in Montego Bay, St James, Holness said that the negotiation process should not be needlessly complicated by the actions of the nation’s people.

“We must not make shocks for ourselves and we must not bring crises on ourselves. We are committed to the principles of industrial negotiations and we believe they must work,” said Holness.

While he did not name any specific groups or individuals in his keynote speech, Holness said that any challenges which Jamaica may face must be respectfully addressed without putting the country’s potential revenue stream at risk.

“The posture of this Government is to take on challenges in a respectful way. The power of the Government lies in the people, and when the people act reasonably, everyone benefits,” said Holness.

“I urge everyone not to make the situation more complicated than it already is. While we have concerns, many of them genuine, do not take action to disrupt the revenue ... . Let us protect the revenues coming in so there is something to negotiate over,” the prime minister appealed.

Late yesterday, the 30,000-member Jamaica Civil Service Association withdrew its threat of industrial action, which was set for Monday, saying that its concerns have been sufficiently addressed for the time being.

Its ultimatum had followed protest action earlier this week by staff of the National Water Commission (NWC) and air traffic controllers at the Sangster International Airport in St James and the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

While NWC workers subsequently resumed operations after their two-day strike, the Government was given a six-month deadline to resolve the contentious issues.

Air traffic controllers had stayed off the job on Thursday to protest against the state of the equipment infrastructure and the accompanying safety risks. That action resulted in 40 flights being cancelled and thousands of airline passengers being stranded locally and overseas.

The Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association subsequently released a statement denying that industrial action had taken place, stating instead that the workers had been constrained in providing service due to the state of the equipment.