“We have been at this place before. We have made efforts at economic reform but when the going got tough, instead of the tough get going, we abandoned the path because of the difficulties,” said Helene Davis Whyte, Vice President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU).
“We don’t have that luxury this time,” she told the Partnership of Jamaica retreat, chaired by Prime Minister , the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, at the Terra Nova hotel on July 16.
She was giving the trade union’s response to the presentation by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Hon. Horace Dalley, who spoke on ‘Fiscal Consolidation with Social Protection and Inclusion’.
Mrs. Davis Whyte spoke about the maturity of the Jamaican workforce and their understanding of the realities of the country’s economic situation.
She said while there were many, who were skeptical about the trade unions’ ability to sell wage restraint to workers under the first Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the unions, the Jamaican workers fully “understand the state of play” where the economy is concerned.
She noted, however, that “they don’t want to have to come back to this same place every year”.
It is therefore critical, she said, that the Partnership of Jamaica focuses its attention on growth for “only through growth would we be able to solve our economic problems”.
Mrs. Davis Whyte stressed that economic growth with equity and job creation, “must be front and centre.”
“Only sustainable economic growth can get us out of our predicament. So instead of pointing fingers at each other, let us sit down and see how we can work together for economic growth. If we can’t sell this to the Jamaican people, we are doomed. We have to stay the course this time,” she said.