A plan to free up around £50million of government money for public sector pay rises, which previously lost by just one vote, is to come before the States Assembly again in a bid to finally end the long-running row that recently exploded into strike action.
Deputy Geoff Southern last year brought proposals to amend government spending plans to make money from savings and underspends available for wage increases in line with rises in the cost of living for thousands of staff.
However, the plans lost out by just one vote – 21 to 20 – with five States Members absent, one declaring an interest, and Senator Tracey Vallois, who was then the Chair of the States Employment Board, abstaining from the vote.
Saturday was the latest show of defiance against government protestations that “there is no more money”, with hundreds of workers turning out to “march for fair pay” through the streets of St. Helier.
Among the group were civil servants, teaching assistants, nurses and radiographers, who chanted and carried signs as they walked from Howard Davis Park to the Royal Square where the group gathered to hear speeches from politicians and union officials.
Proud to have been one of the speakers at Jersey’s Public Sector Fair Pay Match And Rally today. A magnificent turnout - thanks to all @JerseyNEU members who took part. #RealTeamJersey pic.twitter.com/JQu6Ao14s5— Andy Woolley (@andymwoolley) February 9, 2019
Speakers included National Education Union Regional Secretary Andy Woolley, Unite the Union member John McNichol and JCSA Prospect President Terry Renouf, who described the public service as “the fabric of the Jersey we enjoy."
He lamented that money he said should have been saved for pay awards had been “spent on interims and consultants from outside the island."
Alluding to the States Assembly, Mr Renouf said the turnout of Saturday’s March should send “a strong message to the people in the big house behind us”, concluding: “We are going to be valued for the work that we do.”
Video: Senator Sam Mézec addresses the crowd.
Reform Jersey Chairman, and member of the Council of Ministers, Senator Sam Mézec, spoke of how the widespread outrage over public sector pay was inspiring the private sector, stating that they too were now demanding cost of living rises, and claimed that “partnership agreements don’t work."
With “growing concern from the public” over public sector strike action stepping up a gear, Senator Mézec said he believed there would be a “different result” as he revealed that Deputy Southern would be bringing back his plans to amend the Medium Term Financial Plan to free up money for pay rises.
Telling marchers that there is “strength and power” in standing together, he concluded: “Solidarity. Keep up the fight. We will win.”
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