KINGSTON: Head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute, Danny Roberts, has announced that the public sector wage freeze that was implemented last year could go beyond the next three years.
In 2013, some public sector workers and their unions signed a wage freeze until 2016. However, the government agreed to adjust wages through promotions and other incentives.
The wage restraint is part of the conditions under the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to contain spending. However, Roberts says if the structural reforms under the IMF agreement are not achieved over the next three years, there is likelihood that public sector workers will have to consider an extension of the current wage freeze.
“Well the possibility exists that if the economy doesn’t grow as one of the conditions set out in the IMF agreement, that we will be faced with the challenge of declining revenue and increasing expenditure,” he said. “So some of the rules as set out in the IMF agreement could be threatened if the economy doesn’t grow sufficiently for us to be able repay the loan and to offer public sector workers a wage increase.”
According to Roberts, unions may also have to consider the possibility of retrenchment of thousands of public servants at the end of the period.
He also disclosed that the public sector wage freeze has broken the connection between improved performance and more pay as too often workers become complacent in periods of crisis.
“There is a general tendency to believe that the government’s responsibility is to grow the economy and that we simply do nothing and watch them either succeed or fail,” he said. “I am calling on public sector workers in particular to play a more activist role to add their voices to the call to the need for us to have a comprehensive growth strategy.”