Wednesday, 03 May 2023 10:24

PM rubbishes negative comments about public sector compensation review

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness is urging Jamaicans to avoid falling for misinformation being circulated on social media that public sector workers are earning less salaries after the compensation review.

"I have been monitoring very closely the conversations around the compensation review. I have seen comments where people are saying they are worse off. I have seen comments that say the process is unfair. I have seen comments which would suggest that after the review, the entire public sector is earning less than they have earned before," Holness said at the launch of Workers' Week and Labour Day on Tuesday at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Andrew.

"I have seen a few comments, far and few in-between, which suggest that persons are happy. I have seen other comments which are supported, but obviously, whenever a government takes on these major reforms you will not be able, at first go, to satisfy everybody," he said.

He stressed that people who are not employed in the public sector and are not a part of the review are only hearing one aspect of the story and will form the opinion that somehow "the Government just cut people pay".

"Those are not the facts. The fact is that, before the review our wages in GDP (gross domestic product) was somewhere in the region of about 9.5 per cent. Now, it's about 11.5 per cent, so it has increased. That means the Government is not just budgeting but paying out more cash to people. The wage bill has increased by over $100 billion more. So, where did that money go? It is going into the workers' pockets," said Holness.

"The structure of the increase is meant to increase wage levels generally. Even the Opposition I have heard said it, that the people who were getting the lowest pay are the ones who got the biggest increase. People at the top have also got sizeable increases and there are concerns about what is happening in the middle," he added.

In further defending his stance that the compensation review has benefited workers, Holness said, "I want to disabuse the public's view that somehow, as a result of the compensation review, everybody is getting less. That is not true. In fact, the people who were getting the lowest, they have got, in general, the better increase and there is more money going into public sector wages than before. I needed to say that to balance the negative and untrue and unfair narrative that is being created. [It was] an exercise which every government wanted to do but none of them would have done it."

Holness said the Government has sacrificed significant political capital in making changes to the salaries.

"But I have said to my Cabinet and the political party that I lead, that I am not here for power's sake. If you have power, you must use it to make changes. No matter how much YouTube and TikTok negative videos they are going to make, the facts are that this Government that I lead has made the changes that are resulting in improving people's lives right now, and certainly will lead to a better Jamaica," Holness said to much applause.