Lowest paid to get big boost in compensation review – Clarke

Thousands of workers at the lowest end of the public sector salary scale with annual incomes of up to $600,000 will benefit significantly from the compensation reform now under way, according to Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.

Among them are office attendants, drivers and messengers.

“I want to make it equivocally clear that persons in these groupings can expect a significant adjustment coming out of the compensation and restructuring exercise,” Clarke told The Gleaner on Saturday while attending a meeting of Generation 2000, the young professionals’ arm of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

The finance minister noted that he has always admired the solidarity shown by public sector bargaining groups during negotiations, as they advocate strongly for the lower category of workers.

“ … Coming out of this restructuring exercise, it should be clear from the outset that we intend to make a significant adjustment for those persons at the absolute lowest levels of compensation in the central government today,” Clarke he said.

Delayed from 2021

Originally, Government had committed to begin the restructuring of public sector reform in April 2021. However, those plans were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022-23 Budget focuses priority on the implementation of a restructured public sector compensation scheme, with plans to complete consultations with unions and other stakeholders and conduct information sessions with employees.

-When pressed for an implementation timeline in light of recent strike action among workers in the sector, Clarke told The Gleaner that this will depend on the speed at which the negotiations and consultations progress.

“Public sector employees want this to happen quickly and I want to give them the assurance that the Government stands ready and willing to move as quickly as we can to engage with and complete the remaining rounds of consultations with public sector unions,” Clarke stated. “For better or for worse, we have started with a focus on the central government grouping. And, once we conclude those, we will move to conclude the public bodies, and I’ve given assurances that we expect to be able to get the public bodies within the next six months.”

Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) President O’Neil Grant says his union remains concerned, arguing that, even with an upward movement, the status of workers will be largely unchanged.

“While we welcome these indicators, we still have to examine them in the context of the wider review, which now includes a discontinuation of certain concessionary benefits, including loans,” Grant told The Gleaner on Monday.

“Many of these workers are not pensionable, them being [employed] temporarily,” the head of the 30,000-member JCSA noted.


Source: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20220531/lowest-paid-get-big-boost-compensation-review-clarke