Mandeville Weekly News


Posted by Editor (Wendy) on Jul 19 2017 at 3:00 PM
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Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness said that urgency must be placed on settling the issue of public- sector pension reform. 

Acknowledging concerns expressed by trade unions relating to the five per cent increase in contributions by workers, Mr. Holness noted that failure to reform pensions will result in a “major crisis on our hands”.  “I cannot over emphasise that point.  In 1990, the pension bill of the Government was 0.4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Today, it has more than quadrupled. It is now two per cent of GDP,” he said.

The Prime Minister was addressing delegates in the public session of the Triennial General Assembly, of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU),  on July 15, under the theme, “New world of Work…New Type of Representation”.

Mr. Holness informed that the government must find a costly $34.5 billion to meet pension expenses and reiterated the need to pass the Pensions (Public Service) Act of 2017 and the Constitution (Amendment) (Established Fund) (Payment of Pensions) Act 2017.  “The pension bill is growing…It is absolutely important that we get the Bills passed.  The end result will be to the benefit of you the workers and the country,” he said.

The Bills, which have already been passed by the House of Representatives earlier in the year, are now before the Senate.

In addressing other issues, Mr. Holness pointed out that trade unions will have a critical role to play in the government’s process of divesting state assets.   “Once we start to shift assets over to the private sector…the unions have to be vigilant to ensure that the best deals are struck for the workers,” he  said.

President, Senator Kavan Gayle said that the new world of work is being defined in relation to globalisation, technologically-led innovation, economic policies and the competitive nature of businesses, which “drastically transforms jobs and the labour market”.

Mr. Gayle noted in that regard, the BITU and other trade union movements must be innovative and forward thinking in the way workers rights are defended and protected.