Construction workers, master builders to sign new wage pact

Construction workers, master builders to sign new wage pact

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

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LOCAL trade unions and the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ) are scheduled to meet on Friday to sign off on a new wage pact for unionised construction workers.

This follows their agreement on a new two-year labour agreement, which includes a pay increase of six per cent in the first year, and a further five per cent in the second year. Increases in allowances for the workers will also remain in the five to six per cent range.

The agreement will not directly affect the rates paid by expatriate contractors, all of whom fall outside the Joint Industrial Council (JIC) for the Building and Construction Industry, which comprises the IMAJ and three trade unions — the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, the National Workers’ Union, and the Trade Union Congress.

BITU vice-president Alden Brown, who is expected to speak on behalf of the unions at Friday’s signing, told the Jamaica Observeryesterday that the unions are still hoping that, eventually, Chinese and Latin American contractors, including China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which is involved with most local public works projects, will join the council and observe its industry-wide agreement.

“Labourers on their sites are getting $1,800 per day, while those who fall under the JIC are getting $3,000 a day: that’s not fair. But, hopefully, they will see the light soon and team with the council,” Brown said.

The expatriates also did not pay an end-of-project bonus which was part of the JIC agreement, but had been absorbed into the weekly or bi-weekly wages of the JIC-represented workers in 2017.

The unions have blamed the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for failing to be firm in dealing with the expatriates. However, they have conceded that because of the economic value of the major projects, successive governments have not been as rigid with them as they should.

But the labour ministry has insisted that it has done its best to protect the interests of the workers under the provisions of the Labour Relations and industrial Disputes Act.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson is expected to address Friday’s signing.

The previous JIC agreement expired on January 31.

— Balford Henry

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