As the government moves ahead with public sector reform, leaders of the major trade unions are weighing in on the possibility of job losses. Speaking on Nationwide@5 on Nationwide 90 FM, yesterday, Head of UCASE Vincent Morrison alleged that there will be 15,000 persons loosing their jobs.
Mr Morrison, in trying to dismiss the Prime Minister`s assertion that there will be no major job losses, said he got his information from “off the road.”
He was immediately challenged on that comment and in an epic take down on the same program, Oneil Grant, Vice President of the Confederation of Trade Unions, slapped down the statement, stating that there is no where in the public sector that 15, 000 persons can lose their jobs.
Mr. Grant, quoting from figures, said that the public sector is around 120,000 strong. 80,000 of those persons are apart of the essential services. Essential services covers, Education, Security and Healthcare. He said that there can be no job losses in the essential services, as a matter of fact, more jobs will be created in those areas.
He further went on to state that of the 40,000 persons left, there is nowhere there, that 15,000 persons can lose their jobs.
And Mr. Grant is on solid ground in his assessment, as the Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking yesterday, said that there will be no major job losses.
Vincent Morrison, is the head of a trade union, that broke away from the National Workers Union (NWU), that is aligned to the Opposition Peoples national Party.(PNP)
Public Sector reform has been touted in Jamaica for over 30 years. Successive administrations has shied away from taking action to slim down the unwieldy and inefficient bureaucracy, that many studies has shown is an impediment to growth and National development, because of the fear it may lead to job losses. Thats a political no,no.
It has now reached the point whereby the Governing Jamaica Labour Party will have to address it,as its a requirement under the Agreement signed between the Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Public Sector Rationalization as it is called, is coming over from the previous administration`s deal with the IMF, in which it must bring the public sector wage bill to Nine Percent of GDP.
The Government through Prime Minister Andrew Holness has laid out a path to achieve that target. As he maintained,there will be no massive job losses, so workers need not fear. He said that the Government will seek to divest certain entities into private hands. Simply put, when the government privatize a certain arm of Government, that means the workers are no longer employed by the Government. The Government no longer has to pay those workers. That will help the government to spend less on wages and salaries.
Whatever the government saves will then be able to go to other areas that needs more money like Health and National Security.
The other significant way the GOJ will be using is the process of attrition.