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BOJ unionised staff enraged by exclusion from pay windfall

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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THE administration of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) and employees are headed for a possible confrontation this week resulting from recent increases in salaries paid only to the executive staff.

The current fury is being fanned by a recent newspaper report, which noted that the compensation packages for the executive management were topped up during 2017 amid efforts to retain critical staff. However, no increases were granted to unionised staff.

The information gleaned from the bank's annual report, which was made public in March, showed that the increased salaries granted to individual executives were calculated at being within a range of $9.28 million to $19.3 million, relative to the 2016 pay packets when the range was $8.09 million to $18.02 million.

Senior deputy governor of the bank, John Robinson, was reported as explaining that the compensation package was introduced to stop the haemorrhage of skilled staff, which he attributed to a “tightened labour market”, especially in the growth areas of the bank's mandate.

Robinson was also reported as admitting that staff turnover rates had increased beyond the low rates previously experienced by the BOJ.

However, the bank has since realised that because this effort is aimed at retaining staffers above the level of deputy directors, it has led to a confrontation with unionised workers represented by the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), who are enraged by the fact that they have been left out of the windfall despite current negotiations with the management on a new labour agreement.

“Given the challenges of the competition for skilled staff, we are asking what could have driven the bank to make the move to satisfy the needs of the executives, while the majority of the workers, who are unionised, are being offered a seven per cent increase over two years,” BITU President, Senator Kavan Gayle, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“We also want to know what was the effective date of those salary adjustments, and what was the medium used to determine the extent of the adjustments?” Senator Gayle asked.

He noted that the union is aware that two compensation surveys were considered by the bank last year. The first was eventually abandoned, but while the second was completed, and seems to have formed the basis for last year's executives' windfall, the management is yet to implement them for his union's members.

“We expected [full] discussions on how it would impact our members, and when and how it would be implemented. We met with the management up to last week Wednesday and they promised to provide us with the information. We are still waiting,” Gayle added.

He said that it was clear that the largest number of individuals abandoning the bank are from the union's membership. The Observer understands that more than 100 employees have left their jobs at BOJ over the past three years. The BOJ employs close to 600 staffers.

However, a management source for the bank with whom the Observer spoke yesterday, claimed that the issues have arisen because the management had handled the development ”clumsily”.

He added that the management of the bank would e-mail a response to the workers today explaining how the issue has been handled and how the process of dealing with the compensation report is being treated.

Senator Gayle said that if the need to retain staff was not the basis for last year's increases, the management needs to explain what was.

He also confirmed that his members are from three bargaining units — the line staff, supervisors and individuals up to the level of deputy directors.

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