95% of public sector workers accept Gov’t wage offer Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke says by the time rank-and-file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) sign, 95 per cent or 105,000 public sector employees would have accepted the Government’s wage offer under the public sector compensation review programme.

He was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday as he closed the 2023/24 Budget Debate.

Clarke said this is significantly more than the 60 per cent of workers who had accepted the offer at the time he opened the Budget Debate on March 7.

The minister publicly thanked the workers for accepting the offer though approximately 13,000 workers in various government agencies and departments are yet to sign.

Teachers and the police were the two largest groups of public employees who were yet to sign at the start of the month with a March 31 deadline for them to do so looming.

Clarke had warned that the $12 billion set aside to pay teachers and $10 billion set aside for the police could not be carried over into the new budget or new fiscal year that starts on April 1. Teachers staged several days of protests as they demanded a livable wage and, while the police did not walk off the job, they, too, demanded a livable wage.

With the teachers signing, and with the police indicating that they will be doing so, Clarke said the fiscal risks of which he was concerned and that he shared with the workers and with the Jamaican population, will be averted.

“We expect, certainly for the groups who have signed, that the retroactive payments will be paid out this month. We will endeavour that the funds leave the Consolidated Fund by the end of the month,” Clarke said.

Following on his appeal during his opening Budget presentation when he pleaded with workers to sign, Clarke said Tuesday: “I want to thank all members of the public service who responded positively and decisively.”

He cited that over 80 per cent of teachers voted to accept the offer and were now in the process of being paid the $12 billion that was set aside for them in the current budget. The Ministry of Education in a statement Tuesday said the retroactive amounts and new salary scales for teachers started that day and would be implemented through Thursday.

Clarke also stated that $6.4 billion will be paid out to doctors, over 95 per cent of whom voted in support of the public sector compensation review programme.

The finance minister noted, too, that the $10 billion set aside in the budget will be paid out to the police this month as soon as they sign the agreement.

He noted that over 86 per cent of rank-and-file members of the JCF who voted “cast their vote in support of the public sector compensation restructuring reform in the form of the government’s offer”.