Jamaica seeks unemployment insurance for workers | Local company

KINGSTON

As the country celebrated Labor Day on Monday, the Jamaican government said it was actively pursuing efforts to introduce unemployment insurance for workers.

“We are looking into the possibility of introducing unemployment insurance in Jamaica to help workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a message marking Labor Day which is celebrated here under the theme “”Reigniting a National for Greatness: Protecting Our Heritage and Environment. »

He said the initiative would “temporarily provide workers with partial income relief while they seek new employment.

“In addition, support from unemployment insurance would facilitate the acquisition of new skills to increase and improve their employability,” said Holness, noting that the most important role of government for workers “is to ensure that the economy grows and creates jobs”.

He said Jamaica was recovering from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the local economy was growing, with more and more jobs being created.

“Jamaica’s unemployment rate of 6.2% in January 2022 is the lowest on record in Jamaican history. Despite turbulent times, Jamaica is moving in the right direction. This shows the strength of our macro economy and the resilience of our workforce.

“However, this recovery is still a work in progress. The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine have triggered the biggest wave of global inflation seen in over 40 years. Import prices for fuel and food are rising in countries around the world at the same time (and) although we all know that this inflation has causes outside of Jamaica, it still does not facilitate absorption of the average household,” Holiness said.

He said these external shocks were happening in the context of the island’s long fiscal adjustment “which was secured by the sacrifice of workers which led to a rehabilitation of our economy, but had real impacts on sector wages. audience”.

He added that there are many instances where the public sector compensation structure “is unfair and inequitable.

“This is so in the central government as well as in public bodies. Inequalities in the structure of public sector pay are not new,” Holness said, adding that they did not appear “overnight.”

“Decades of tinkering with compensation systems without addressing the fundamental issues are contributing factors. However, this government[…]decided to tackle this decades-old problem because we care about our workers and we recognize that the current structure is unsustainable.

Holness said his administration, working in partnership with public sector unions, made the decision “for all of us to engage in the hard work of addressing structural inequalities in public sector pay through an exercise major restructuring of the public sector”.

He said it is designed to eliminate inequities, make clearing simpler and more transparent while ensuring Jamaica’s finances remain sustainable.

“We recognize that this will not be an easy process, there is pent up anger, mistrust over broken promises and contentious issues to be resolved. However, rest assured your government is listening,” Holness added.

—CMC