NHT workers off the job

Garfield Harvey, Third Vice President of the University and Allied Workers Union,
Another group of public sector workers has walked off the job.
Non-management staff, including administrative and ancillary members of  the National Housing Trust (NHT) took industrial action on Friday morning to protest the delay in negotiations for new wages and other terms and conditions of employment.
Of particular concern to the workers is the failure of the NHT to start consultation with unions regarding implementation of a job evaluation exercise.
Employees from the NHT's head office in St. Andrew and Spanish Town are protesting after a five-day ultimatum expired. 
Third Vice President of the University and Allied Workers Union, Garfield Harvey, told Radio Jamaica News that he expects the protest will spread to other NHT offices.
Mr. Harvey said the employees are upset about what they claim is the interference of the Ministry of Finance in their negotiations with the NHT, which has resulted in a delay in the negotiations until next month. 
"What is happening is that the workers believe it is not being treated with urgency. We've had almost a month since our last meeting. The Ministry of Finance has not given the National Housing Trust a mandate or any guidance as to how to proceed, post our last meeting. Bear in mind that we are of view that the Ministry of Finance shouldn't even be involved in the negotiations between the employer and employee. That is an imposition," he complained. 
"I suspect that part of the reason for the delay is the fact that the compensation review is taking precedence and that’s the approach being taken by the Ministry of Finance, which I believe is a big part of the problem affecting the entire public service," added the trade unionist.
According to Mr. Harvey, the employees were further incensed by the utterances from Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Thursday that public sector workers should be reasonable in their expectations.
He said it is likely that there will be further disruption in the public service "in the coming days". 
More talks to come 
In an update late Friday afternoon, a statement from the management of the NHT said the staff association has indicated its refusal to accept the four per cent wage increase offered by the government to all public sector workers. 
With regard to the job evaluation exercise, the NHT's management and the staff association confirmed a meeting for next Tuesday to discuss the way forward with the staff representatives.
The NHT said it remains committed to the collective bargaining process and looks forward to the completion of the negotiations in an amicable manner. 

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