KINGSTON, March 9, 2018 - Finance Minister Audley Shaw says his government is unable to make a better wage offer to public sector workers at this time.
Several groups including the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) and the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) have rejected the government's revised wage offer of a 16 per cent increase over four years.
Under the offer, public sector workers will receive five per cent in year one, which the minister said will be paid retroactively to April of last year; two per cent in year two; four per cent in year three; and five per cent in year four.
Mr. Shaw has urged public sector unions to be reasonable in considering the offer.
"When you add the increments to that 16 per cent, you add the 10 per cent increments - that's 26 per cent in this second four years. It's a far more attractive arrangement than in the previous four years," said Mr. Shaw, adding that the government is doing its "very best."
The Finance Minister says it is his government's intention to pay the five per cent retroactive salary to public sector workers this financial year which ends on March 31 despite objections from the JTA.
Earlier this week, the JTA said the move was unprecedented in light of the fact that salary negotiations have not been concluded.
It said if the Finance Ministry goes ahead with the payment, the Association will view it as tantamount to union busting and a breach of Collective Bargaining Rights.
But Mr. Shaw responded, saying in terms of its accounting, the government "cannot take that liability over into the next fiscal year."
"It is not unprecedented that you start paying while negotiations continue. That has happened before. In fact, on many ocassions as minister, I've been signing wage agreements when the increases have long gone, so it's not unusual," he contended.
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