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Process to grant politicians' pay increase akin to abuse of power, says trade unionist

By Prince Moore  
 
Trade unionist Helene Davis Whyte says the process to grant the latest increase to the political directorate is akin to an abuse of power.
 
She says the conversion formula used to calculate the salary for public sector workers under the compensation review is different from that of parliamentarians.
 
Mrs Davis Whyte told Radio Jamaica News that no other public sector worker was allowed to go beyond a certain point on the salary scale except parliamentarians.
 
"The decision that was taken is to have that link between the permanent secretary and the Cabinet minister being made at the highest point in the scale for the permanent secretary. So in essence, what that meant is that the Cabinet minister would have converted to the new rate of pay at the maximum of the scale, given that they were pegged to the maximum of the permanent secretary. And despite the various negotiations that were ongoing, there's no other public sector worker, including the permanent secretaries, that were allowed to convert beyond the fourth point in the scale," she explained. 
 
She said the unions are taking issue with how parliamentarians converted to the new scale, given that all other public sector workers were converted at or below point four on the more than 10-point scale. 
 
Mrs Davis Whyte said a decision should be made on how parliamentarians are remunerated. 
 
"The government could have decided to go ahead and implement any one of the various recommendations that have been made over the years, instead of continuing the link between the pay of the permanent secretary and the pay of the Cabinet minister. I think as a country we have to decide how it is that we are going to be doing that. Because if we don't decide, every time parliamentarians are to get an increase in pay, we will always have what exactly has turned out in this particular situation," she warned. 
 
Mrs Davis Whyte said issues such as performance and accountability must be considered when determining the salaries for parliamentarians.
 
She added that the same standards governing employment in the public sector should be instituted for parliamentarians. 
 
"Even just knowing what is the job description of the Member of Parliament, as against the parliamentarian, all of those things need to be known, because we have moved to that point for the public servant, but it’s now to move to that point for the political directorate. And there must be a system of accountability, something as simple as whether or not you turn up for various committee meetings and so on," she suggested, adding that this would allow people to judge whether the parliamentarian is performing adequately or not. 
 


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