Advocates Network vows to continue protest

Advocates Network had designated Thursday, June 15, 2023 as the final day of its public protests against the heavy increase in salaries granted to the political directorate. However, near midday, as approximately 10 people gathered at National Heroes’ Circle, across from the finance ministry, they declared that they would continue demonstrating against the controversial pay hike.

Co-chair of the group, Professor Rosalea Hamilton, made it clear that they are not asking for a full roll back of the wage increase but they want the Government to be more considerate towards the people of Jamaica.

“We have asked for a roll back to at least 20 per cent, which was the minimum increase for all public servants. We want to see those accountability measures in force and once they are in force and they can adequately justify this increase, then there will be no quarrel. But we can’t put accountability measures in place after the fact. We expect that you will put your accountability measures in place, then make the assessment to justify the increases,” Hamilton told the Jamaica Observer.

Her reference was to Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ announcement last month that the Government is to implement several accountability measures for the political directorate.

Holness told a press conference on May 22 that written job descriptions for Members of Parliament and Cabinet ministers were already in place and would be tabled in Parliament shortly.

“Those were done in 2021…We will table those so the public can see what the job entails,” Holness said.

He also said that a code of ethics to govern the conduct and duties of MPs has been developed.

On Thursday, Hamilton said that the next step of the Advocacy Network will be to see whether the code of conduct will be signed by all politicians as well as when the outline of their job descriptions will be announced.

She also expressed outrage that documents justifying the wage increase have not been published.

Her co-chair, Robert Stephens, also expressed outrage over the salary increase.

“How can they defend a wage increase for themselves while everything else is falling apart? It is clear that they have no understanding of what the needs of the people are,” he said.