Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has responded to Thursday’s sit-in by many of the island’s prosecutors from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), over discontent with their emoluments under the Government’s compensation review for the public service.
The prosecutors’ action crippled Circuit Court sitting in a number of parishes nationally, and only one court was reportedly functional n the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
In a statement, the prosecutors claimed to have had no response from Clarke to two correspondence that were sent to him relative to their concerns, and expressed the view that they were being disregarded and disrespected by the minister.
Later on Thursday, Clarke responded and painted a very different picture from that of the prosecutors. His statement in full is carried below:
“The Legal Officers Staff Association (‘LOSA’), which represents all members of the legal profession employed to the Government of Jamaica, including prosecutors, signed the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) on compensation restructuring with the Government of Jamaica on March 10, 2023. As such, the new compensation arrangements, inclusive of all retroactive amounts, have been implemented for members of LOSA.
“On May 25, 2023, LOSA, under the signature of its vice-president, wrote to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service requesting a meeting to discuss matters of concern to the association.
“On the same day I called the vice-president of LOSA, discussed aspects of the matters raised in the letter, and indicated that, given the schedule of meetings with other groups, we would be unable to accommodate a meeting with them for some time.
“For clarity, there are still a few public bodies which have not yet started implementation of the compensation restructuring, and the priority, at this stage, is to reach an agreement to allow for the implementation of the new compensation system in those entities.
“The following day, May 26, 2023, a letter came from a group calling itself the ‘Concerned Prosecutors at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions’. While the letter expressed dissatisfaction with compensation levels for prosecutors, it entailed no specific policy suggestion nor request, and the letter did not express a desire for a meeting.
“Moreover, the letter was not signed by an individual who could be contacted. It was signed, ‘Concerned Prosecutors ODPP’.
“In addition, the letter neither contained an email address nor a telephone number.
“Finally, and most importantly, in matters regarding compensation, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service engages with bargaining groups duly recognised as representative of occupational groupings within the public sector. The recognised bargaining group for members of the legal profession employed to the Government of Jamaica is LOSA. There is no other recognised group.”