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Jamaica: More than money: as tense wage talks loom, other benefits could be dealmaker

With rising food prices on one front and shrinking revenues on the other precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, one of Jamaica’s most senior labour experts is predicting tougher-than-usual wage negotiations ahead for public-sector workers.

Notwithstanding the prediction from the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) that inflation will be at an average 4.8 per cent over the next two years, Danny Roberts, head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute, contends that unions will be looking at more direct cost changes that have skyrocketed since the pandemic.

“Negotiations are going to be driven by cost-of-living adjustment, and as much as the [targeted] inflation rate set by the BOJ is between four to six per cent, the workers would be looking at specific items that affect them much more than the overall inflation … like bus fare, transportation, and the food bill,” Roberts told The Gleaner on Sunday.

Chicken and pork producers have warned of impending cost increases for popular proteins, and grain prices on the world market have been rising at an alarming rate.

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