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Pay dispute: Mass march to celebrate public workers

Pay dispute: Mass march to celebrate public workers

Thursday 31 January 2019

Pay dispute: Mass march to celebrate public workers


States’ employees still locked in a dispute over public sector pay will be rallying together in a mass march through the streets of St. Helier to “celebrate” public sector services and workers which they say are being “undervalued” ahead of a formal mediation process starting next month.

Disgruntled civil servants, health workers and teachers will parade from Howard Davis Park to the Royal Square next week in a celebratory mass march to raise support for the public sector workers who say that their annual pay increases are not in line with the cost of living.

The long-standing row over pay has already seen civil servants represented by JCSA Prospect and Unite the Union resorting to two rounds of industrial action as well as a group of politicians lobbying the Chief Minister to present a “new offer”

In retaliation to being told “there is no more money”, public sector workers including biomedical scientists, Customs and Immigration officers, pathologists and teaching assistants have already withdrawn goodwill, organised an initial two-hour strike before breaking out into widespread industrial action earlier this month.

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Pictured: Prospect General Secretary Mike Clancy addressed striking civil servants as they gathered in the Royal Square earlier this month. 

Taking a slightly different tack, union members and representatives are organising the march to take place on 9 February at 10:00 as a more celebratory approach to galvanise support for their perspective in the dispute and their work for the public sector which they feel the employer is taking for granted. Workers will congregate at the park at 10:00 before marching on the Royal Square from 10:30 where there will be speeches. The gathering will disperse at 12:00.

Chairman of JCSA Prospect Terry Renouf told Express about the message behind the march: “The purpose is to celebrate the services that we provide to the public that are so undervalued by the employer as well as to celebrate the people that provide those services... 

“...this gives the public an opportunity to show their support for the services that we provide and the people that provide the services. It’s a completely different take on how to get the message out there.”

Mr Renouf also confirmed that, out of the emergency meeting between union reps and States’ Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré and Chief Executive Charlie Parker, a formal mediation process with the Jersey Advisory Conciliation Service (JACS) is due to take place on 14 February.

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Pictured: A meeting between union reps and Chief Minister and Chief Executive has kickstarted a formal mediation process.

Of this, Mr Renouf said: “We’re going in on the understanding that the employer has agreed to come in without any preconditions. So basically that means they’re coming in with a blank sheet of paper. 

“It will be mediation that will be hosted by JACS. It’ll be formal mediation with a view to trying to reach a resolution. It came out of the meeting between Mike Clancy, our General Secretary and the Chief Minister.” 

Video: The deadlocked pay dispute broke out into widespread industrial action earlier this month.

When asked if he felt hopeful about the dispute being resolved by this process, the Prospect Chairman said: “I’m very much reserving judgement… the fact we’re going to mediation is not the end of the dispute, the dispute is going on until such time as a resolution is reached.” 

Commenting on the possibility of further industrial action if the mediation process fails, Mr Renouf said simply: “We’re ruling nothing out.” 

“At the end of the day, the resolution is in the gift of the employer, but unfortunately the longer a dispute goes on the harder it becomes to achieve that resolution,” he added.

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