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Improved Benefits for Public Sector Workers

Featured Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (third left), affixes her signature to the new Heads of Agreement, which was signed between the Government and representatives of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, during a ceremony at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on August 11. Also signing (from left) are: Vice President, Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Helene Davis Whyte; Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips; and President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, O’neil Grant. Pictured in the background (from left) are: Manager, Public Relations, Special Projects and Community Outreach, OPM, Shelly-Ann Harris; and Finance and Planning Ministry officials - Director, Industrial Relations, Lorna A. Phillips; Acting Financial Secretary, Everton McFarlane; Senior Industrial Relations Officer, Charmaine Hayman; and Deputy Financial Secretary, Wayne Jones. The new wage agreement, which is for the contract period 2015 to 2017, will see public sector employees receiving a salary increase of seven per cent over two years. Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (third left), affixes her signature to the new Heads of Agreement, which was signed between the Government and representatives of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, during a ceremony at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on August 11. Also signing (from left) are: Vice President, Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Helene Davis Whyte; Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips; and President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, O’neil Grant. Pictured in the background (from left) are: Manager, Public Relations, Special Projects and Community Outreach, OPM, Shelly-Ann Harris; and Finance and Planning Ministry officials - Director, Industrial Relations, Lorna A. Phillips; Acting Financial Secretary, Everton McFarlane; Senior Industrial Relations Officer, Charmaine Hayman; and Deputy Financial Secretary, Wayne Jones. The new wage agreement, which is for the contract period 2015 to 2017, will see public sector employees receiving a salary increase of seven per cent over two years.
Civil Servants are to receive several improved benefits under the new wage agreement for the 2015 to 2017 contract period. This is in addition to the fixed figure increase of $48,000 to annual salaries across the public service, which will see each worker getting $4,000 per month. The Supper/Meal allowance has moved from $550 per occasion to $700 per occasion, effective April 1, 2015.

“There is some retroactivity, in that persons who have claimed this allowance in the past since April 1, will be able to claim the difference between the $700 and $550 for the each occasion they would have worked late,” President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, O’Neil Grant, told JIS News in an interview.

There is also an increase in Taxi Allowance from $550 per occasion to $700 per occasion for round town transportation. For those who live out of town, the taxi allowance has moved from $900 to $1,200 per occasion, effective April 1, 2015.

Public sector employees who are designated travelling officers are to receive increases in their upkeep over the next two years.

“For the full upkeep, it is moving from $514,500 to $643,125 in year one and a further increase to $707,438 in year two. For the commuted upkeep, and this is for travelling officers who do not own a motor vehicle…. their upkeep moves from $343,248 to $429,060 in year one and a further movement to $471,966 in year two,” Mr. Grant informed, adding that discussion is still taking place as it relates to an increase in mileage.

In terms of Subsistence allowance, this has been increased from $1,608 to $2,500 per 24 hour period, effective April 1, 2015. For shift allowance, this has moved from $11 per hour to $13.75 per hour or up to $20 per hour in certain instances.

The funeral grant  for persons who are permanently employed and have died in the line of duty or after a prolonged illness has been increased to $400,000, up from $220,000, effective April 1, 2015.

For employees who have died from natural causes, not related to the work that they do, the funeral grant has been increased from $100,000 to $300,000.  For employees who are part time workers and would have worked a minimum of 156 days in a year, they will be paid a funeral grant of $120,000, up from $80,000.

In terms of  the death benefit for officers who die in the line of duty, this is moving from $8 million to $10 million.

Also, a $45 million Fund for tertiary education grants is to be established for children of public sector workers.

Government officials and representatives of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), representing some public sector workers, signed off on the Heads of Agreement on August 11, during a ceremony at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Grant  said that members of the public service, who do not receive any form of allowance, will receive an extra $20,000 on their annual salaries under the new wage agreement.

Noting that a significant number of workers do not receive allowances, Mr. Grant said the Government agreed to increase the annual salaries of these persons by $68,000 across the board, instead of the $48,000.

“We are now working through the scales to make sure it is reflected on all the scales that are there,” he added.

Mr. Grant said he is satisfied with the outcomes of the negotiations. “I think we went as far as we could go and we got as much as we could, given the current economic situation that the country finds itself. There are some things that we would have wanted a bit more on, but in the spirit of compromise and to able to reach an agreement, we had to give in on some things,” he noted.

The President said there is one agreement that the Association is particularly pleased about.

“We have a lot of officers in the service who have over committed themselves, particularly to micro lending institutions and the interest rates from these agencies tend to be a little bit higher, because of the risk attached to it. So, what we have done is ask the Ministry of Finance to assist these officers… to redeem their high interest rate loans from micro lending agencies for three per cent on the reducing balance payable over two years,”  he added.

Mr. Grant said this will be implemented by November 2015, and officers who are in this situation can apply to the Finance Ministry to surrender their high interest loans for cheaper loans from the Government.

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