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Gov’t gets ultimatum from firefighters

Members of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) are restive and have issued an ultimatum to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service to commence talks on the proposed new salary structure under the Compensation Review within 10 days, failing which normality cannot be guaranteed.

At the same time, delegates of the powerful Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) have sent a strong message to the Government as they rejected the latest offer from the Ministry of Finance during a meeting in Kingston yesterday.

The uniformed members of the JFB issued the ultimatum owing to the inordinate delay by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service to start discussions with their union representatives.

The unions representing the firefighters have been seeking to hold talks with the finance ministry from May 2022. Attempts were also made in October 2022 but to no avail.

Meanwhile, JTA President La Sonja Harrison said yesterday that of the 585 delegates who voted, 560 rejected the offer.

Only 24 teachers voted in favour.

The vote took place on Friday afternoon at a Special Delegates Conference at Wolmer’s Boys’ School in Kingston.

The conference was called following a week of consultations with JTA members islandwide.

Harrison said the union would continue its talks with the Government to ensure teachers are given a liveable salary.

“The teachers have mandated us, we will go back to the Ministry of Finance and, of course, ask of them to have a sit down with us as professionals of this nation, the pillars of this nation, deserving of respect, and that we sit at the table and continue the talks to iron out the remaining issues as it relates to the transitioning of the teachers from our current dispensation to that of the new, under the Compensation Review,” she said.

In December, the Government started to implement the Public Sector Compensation Review to overhaul the structure of salaries and other emoluments in the public service.

However, the JTA and the Jamaica Constabulary Force are the two major public sector groups for which negotiations have not yet been finalised.