Public sector workers say no to wage freeze for 2015-2017

Public sector workers say they will not be accepting another wage freeze.

This as they prepare to engage the government in negotiations for the 2015-2017 contract period.

The Minister in charge of the Public service, Horace Dalley, told public sector workers this week that while the government appreciates their sacrifice, there’s no wage increase on the table.

Speaking on Nationwide This Morning, the President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, O’Neil Grant, says workers can hold strain no longer.

The Jamaican government has budgeted 160-billion dollars to pay public sector wages this financial year.

That’s almost 10-percent of GDP.

But under the agreement with the IMF, the government has to bring that down to 9-percent by 2016.

With minimal growth of less than 2 percent a year expected between now and then, and with public servants demanding increased wages, it may prove a challenging target.

The JCSA President, O’Neil Grant concedes that the demands of his members must be made against the country’s economic situation.

However Mr. Grant is asserting that public sector workers cannot sign up to another period of frozen salaries.

It’s been five years since public servants received a wage increase.

In that time, the Jamaican dollar has depreciated from an average 88-dollars-and- 49-cents to 1 US, to over 112-dollars now.

Grant is arguing that if the government doesn’t adjust salaries soon, they stand to lose talented workers to the private sector.

This as private employers are on average paying their workers, almost double what’s being offered to an employee at a similar level in the public sector.

So as the government heads into this latest round of wage talks, it will have a massive job on its hands convincing workers to accept another wage freeze and also prevail upon its most talented individuals to resist the temptation to move to a better paying private sector.