On 3 April, the three unions organising in Jamaica’s sugar sector signed an agreement on wages and benefits with the Sugar Producers Federation (SPF), which represents the employers. The agreement is in effect for 24 months, starting on 1 January 20114 or the beginning of the 2013/2014 harvest season, whichever is earlier.
The main items agreed were:
|Item||Year 1||Year 2|
|Wages||8 per cent||5 per cent|
|Cutting of burnt cane||$300/tonne||$315/tonne|
|Crop Bonus on gross crop earning||5 per cent||3 percent|
|Out of base meal allowance||$347||$364|
|Overtime meal allowance||$347||$364|
|Group Life||From $150,000 to $ 200,000 on April 1, 2014|
|Personal Accident||From $300,000 to $400,000 on April 1, 2014|
All new rates will be applied not later than 17 April 2014, while retroactive payments will be made not later than 9 May 2014.
Other benefits agreed include:
Guaranteed employment: Workers are required to report on a day specified by the estate for each week during the out-of-crop period when they will be told if they are required to work for the week or not. If no work, workers are not required to report for the rest of the week and will qualify to be paid for three half days for that week.
A Retirement Scheme will start on 1 January 2015 and the Employers’ contribution shall be 2 percent of employee’s wages. A committee by the Unions and the SPF will agree on details not later than 30 Sept. 30.
Work on holidays will be paid at double time; while a Sick Leave pay will be calculated on the average of the last 13 weeks pay, but will not be less than the Industry Minimum Daily Rate
The signatories also agreed to discuss on engaging the Human Employment and Resource Training Trust, National Training Agency (HEART/NTA) in the assessment of tradesmen at estate level.
The agreement covers some 4,500 workers represented by the unions; while another 700 employees in clerical and supervisory positions will use it as a basis their own negotiations. Indirectly, between 3,000 to 4,000 workers hired by the cane farmers will see their wages influenced by this agreement.
The negotiating unions are the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU) and the National Workers Union (NWU). The former two are affiliated to the IUF.