Sun | May 22, 2022

Private sector appeals for transparency from gov't, patience from workers over salaries' review

Published:Friday | May 13, 2022 | 11:19 PM
The PSOJ said the reclassification exercise should be done in a spirit of partnership, trust and transparency.

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has pleaded for patience from workers ,and transparency from the government amid the increasing level of unrest in the public sector over the review of salaries and benefits.

Three groups of government workers protested this week, crippling the country's water supplies and air travel services.

In a statement Friday, the PSOJ said the compensation review is taking place in a context where workers have sacrificed through wage freezes and marginal increases and with the government now in a position to budget for significant increases over the next three years.

But it contends that what the government will be able to do is driven by the need to change the “unwieldy" compensation structure. 

“So, while we fully appreciate that our public servants would be anxious about this exercise as it affects their bread and butter, we however should not derail this process and we are imploring all stakeholders, workers, GOJ, Opposition and unions to exercise calm, patience and restraint,” the country's most powerful business lobby said.

The PSOJ said the reclassification exercise should be done in a spirit of partnership, trust and transparency.

“We are therefore calling for a bit more patience from public sector and their union representatives, and more transparency from the GOJ, so that all parties are clear as to the road map to finalise this undertaking and where they fall in the process,” the group said.

It lamented that the strikes have been “very disruptive to the economy” and have reduced the country's revenue intake. “This is a cost too great to bare and it is with this in mind that we appeal to all parties to handle this matter with the least fall out for our country."

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke says the current compensation structure has to change for a more efficient and equitable system that rewards performance. Jamaica is currently “burdened” by 325 salary scales and 185 allowances, he said.

“This is utterly unmanageable,” he has argued.

Aspects of the new compensation structure, which significantly collapses those salary scales, are to be implemented this fiscal year that started on April 1. 

But unions have complained about not being given sufficient information; that their workers are not included or that it will take away negotiated benefits such as some major allowances such as motor-vehicle and education. 

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