The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) has moved to clarify the circumstances in which a small number of its Drivers protested at its headquarters yesterday, demanding completion of negotiations regarding salaries and related benefits.
Commissioner of the JFB, Stewart Beckford says the demonstrators, who stated that they are represented by the Jamaica Civil Service Association, are trying to enter into the far-advanced negotiations between the JFB and the National Workers Union, which represents the vast majority of the drivers, technicians and bodymen who work for the Agency. The Commissioner also stated that the protest action did not affect its operations across the island.
“The NWU won bargaining rights in 2014, and the negotiations in which we are presently engaged really intensified in the last financial year. We have a cordial relationship with the Union’s leadership, and we have made good progress regarding the items in their Statement of Claim, and I am certain that we will able to sign a Heads of Agreement with the NWU very shortly.
“What has happened is that these Drivers who protested yesterday, were originally represented by the NWU. For whatever reason, they decided to terminate their membership in that Union, which is the one that has bargaining rights for them. They decided to join the Jamaica Civil Service Association, which has tried to convince us that they should now be given a place at the bargaining table, along with the NWU, to represent these workers’ interests. This cannot be done, as the JCSA has no bargaining rights, and indeed, has not even served a claim on the Fire Brigade. The sentiments that were expressed in this protest yesterday, are therefore simply not true. It is the National Workers Union that represents this category of workers. The small number of drivers who protested yesterday, are the ones who broke away from the NWU.
“The Jamaica Fire Brigade is always sensitive to the needs and interests of its employees. In this regard, in relation to our Drivers and related contract workers, I reiterate that we are very close to concluding our negotiations with the National Workers Union, and we look forward to signing an Agreement in very short order.”