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Phillips cautions unions against unrealistic expectations

Jamaica Observer

Phillips cautions unions against unrealistic expectations

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FINANCE AND PLANNING Minister Peter Phillips has again given Government’s commitment to doing “everything possible” to accommodate claims for salary increases to civil servants for the 2015 to 2017 contract period.

The minister, who was addressing a special forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston to mark Diplomatic Week 2015 last week, however, cautioned unions that while there is a “good basis” for the increases being sought, they must recognise that “there has to be a reasonable limit to the increases and expectations.”

This is in reference to the administration’s commitment, under the International Monetary Fund’s Extended Fund Facility to reduce the ratio of public sector wages to Gross Domestic Product to nine per cent.

Phillips, noting that the negotiations, “and moreso, the settlements”, could prove challenging to the administration’s continued implementation of the economic reform programme, said the claims which the ministry has received to date show a ‘mixed picture’.

 “Obviously, there are some trade unions that understand that it makes no sense to have sacrificed and then abandon that sacrifice with unrealistic claims. But there are others who may not have grasped the full extent of the situation,” he stated.

While noting that the “unrealistic claims” were few, Phillips, nonetheless, stressed that “we can’t pay what we don’t have”.

“But, we will, nevertheless, enter, in good faith, into (the) negotiations and see to what extent we can accommodate the claims. If there are non-cash elements that can be accommodated, we will do so, but there is a limit. (We) certainly don’t intend to have gone this far in the programme and not…complete the course…we intend to complete the course available to us,” he said. (Jamaica Observer)