Jamaica Gleaner / Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Finance Minister Audley Shaw has called for public sector workers to also focus on productivity as they demand increased salaries.
“It can’t be about salary every time we talk, it needs to be about productivity and improving the productivity of every public sector worker because productivity is what is going to help us drive the economy,” Shaw said at a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) meeting in Bellefield, Manchester Central on Sunday.
According to the Finance Minister, there is a lot to be optimistic about approaching the middle of the JLP’s term in government.
“We are serious, focused, we are working and the people of this country will live a better life,” promised Shaw, who is also the chairman of the JLP’s Area Council Three.
Earlier, he had labelled as irresponsible, the approach by Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips towards the wage issues involving the government and public sector workers.
IN PHOTO: Peter Phillips
“Phillips say we must pay the public sector whatever they want and I say to Peter Phillips and Mark Golding (Opposition Spokesman on Finance) that you are irresponsible, because in the four years before we came into government Peter Phillips was Minister of Finance and in the first two years him freeze salary and in the second two years him give them three percent and four percent. With the increment in that four years, they got 17 percent increase and everybody satisfied with what the PNP (People’s National Party) was offering,” said Shaw.
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The Finance Minister said with the increase in the income tax-free portion of people’s salaries, annual increments and proposed wage increases, there will be an overall significant increase for public sector workers compared with what was offered in previous years.
“In addition to the income tax threshold, we said we are going to give you five percent in year one, two percent in year two, four percent year three and five percent year four. That is sixteen percent,” Shaw said noting that the increments would mean an additional ten per cent.
“You compare: 26 per cent now for teachers, nurses and other government workers and for police it’s 28 percent,” the minister charged.
Some public sector groups have rejected Shaw’s calculation, saying it is erroneous.
“We are tired of the poverty and the poverty is not just inadequate money, it is poverty of the mind. Don’t allow Peter Phillips and Mark Golding to lower your ambitions. Dem grudgeful because we giving back money to the pockets of the people in this country,” he said from the political platform.