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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending September 23rd, 2005

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Jamaica’s 88,000 public sector employees will receive a pay increase, called a hardship payment, which will run until March. Prior to the announcement of this hardship pay, the wagers were frozen under a Memorandum of Understanding that runs until then. The increases will range between $400 and $600 per week per employee, based on their current salary bracket. The wages will cost the state $1.8 billion more in payroll. According to Senator Nelson, the agreement was the best that could be provided and will help the employees better afford a decent standard of living.

Jamaica Public Service contractor Clement Watt was shot and killed, following the mysterious deaths of three men working at a pit at the Old Harbour Bay power station two weeks ago. Two of the three dead men worked directly for Watt. Unknown attackers shot Watt several times as he left his car at his home in Spring Village, St. Catherine. No motive is yet known. The three men who were killed at the power station were cleaning a cooling pit; autopsies are being performed to determine cause of death. In the meantime, personal injury lawyers are approaching family members in hopes of representing their cases while awaiting investigation results. Watt had recently informed family members of one man that JPS had no responsibility for the deaths.

Former member of Parliament Ronald Thwaites bested incumbent member of Parliament Victor Cummings for the job of constituency chairman in the Central Kingston seat race on Sunday, raising the stakes in the ongoing battle for who will run as the candidate for the People’s National Party in the next general elections. Thwaites received 54 delegate votes to Cummings’ 37 in his bid to return to politics. Cummings vowed to secure the PNP’s nomination for the Central Kingston seat despite his loss as the chairman. Cummings maintains that he has been a successful MP, working hard to ensure schools are well stocked and test scores higher. As chairman, Thwaites will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the constituency, overseeing the two divisions, polling division workers and handling administrative matters of the constituency.

Vauxhall High School in East Kingston was closed on Monday because of teachers raising concerns over inadequate security. The school’s principal reports that the school would reopen on Tuesday following what is being called a silent protest. The school contains a rear wall that is a boundary between the school and Black Street, an area of Browns Town which has experienced ongoing bouts of gang fighting. When a portion of the fence was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan last year, gunmen from neighboring communities trespassed onto the school grounds on several occasions, bringing about the concerns from the teachers. Work is expected to start on the wall in short order.

The controversy surrounding efforts by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to recover costs of damage done by Hurricane Ivan keep experiencing new twists. The company announced yesterday that it had decided not to increase electricity rates to recover the $457 million approved by the Office of Utilities Regulation. The OUR said that JPS’ lawyers served notice that it will be going to the Court of Appeals to increase the amount approved. JPS president Charles Matthews issued a statement saying that JPS does not intend to recover the costs of the hurricane damage until oil prices stabilize and the economy rebounds sufficiently from the storm. Opposition spokesman on utility and regulatory affairs Clive Mullings urged people not to be fooled into believing that the increase won’t happen at all. The JPS originally submitted a $1.5 billion insurance claim, which was rejected by OUR, resulting in the approval of $457 million to be recovered through rate hikes. The anticipated hike brought fierce protests from citizens throughout the island.

An accident involving a fully loaded oil tanker created a major oil spill and forced the closure of Alice Eldermire Drive in Montego Bay for four hours yesterday. Emergency measures were taken to lower chances of fire and to minimize environmental damage. Fire officials said there was no choice but to close the road given the dangerous circumstances involved. The tanker was traveling with 5000 gallons of fuel when a car drove into its path, causing the tanker to overturn and spill the contents of one of its four tanks. The driver of the tanker was unhurt, while two occupants of the other car sustained minor injuries. The Sangster’s International Airport fire department assisted the Montego Bay department with foam to minimize the fire hazards from the spilled oil.

Two British officers have been appointed to the Jamaica Constabulary Force at the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police. The two officers will join the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who arrived from Scotland Yard last March. Minister of National Security Dr. Peter Phillips is currently in London participating in discussions regarding British support for Operation Kingfish, and posting JCF officers in the U.K. Scotland Yard’s director recently visited Jamaica to discuss the program and to help increase awareness of the links between events in London and Jamaica. The discussions are to assess opportunities for cooperation and assistance by Scotland Yard to the JCF.

A 15-month long wage negotiation between the government and the rank and file of the Jamaica Constabulary Force should be settled today when talks resume among officials. Since last May the Police Federation has been negotiating for a 24-pooint salary package, with the government claiming it cannot accommodate the agreement because of an agreement with the Jamaican Confederation of Trade Unions to maximize public sector increases at three percent over two years until March 2006. The Federation insists it was not a signer of the understanding and is therefore exempt from its parameters. Both sides are hoping for closure today, after agreeing to a one-time payment for the police. Details were not being disclosed until the talks are finalized.


Double Olympic golf medalist Veronica Campbell and Dwight Thomas were both ranked highly in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Women’s and Men’s overall ranking list. The two are Jamaica’s best-ranked athletes. Campbell, who anchored Jamaica’s team in the sprint relay in the 20m Olympic race, is listed as sixth in the Women’s Overall rankings while Thomas, a 100m finalist at the World Championships, is now ranked 34th on the list. Campbell dropped one place to end up sixth, after losing her IAAF World Athletics Final 200m title recently, finishing second behind Allyson Felix of the U.S. Thomas has passed by Asafa Powell, who is 44th on the list, by finishing the scoring with 1341 points.

Eltham High, first-time entrants in the ISSA/Pepsi Manning Cup competition, edged out Kingston College in a 1-0 victory, beating the past champions for their second consecutive win in the competition. The deadlock was broken in the 32nd minute when Captain Dwayne Hunter netted a header that helped his team ruin the purple parade. The win puts Eltham to the top of group E, sharing that spot with Bridgeport with six points. Kingston College is in joint third place with Holy Trinity following their defeat by Eltham. The defense proved to be the key, keeping Kingston from breaking through at any point. Hunter stood out as the team’s best attacker, keeping KC’s central defender on the watch throughout the match.

The Wray and Nephew National Premier League saw continued bad luck for the Village United team, who lost 1-0 to Arnett Gardens at the Tony Spaulding Sports Complex on Sunday. Village lost a man in the 24th minute and watched as Gregg Taylor got his first goal for his new club in the 69th minute. The troubles began with Henrique Green’s second yellow for dissent early in the game, and went from there. Good defense on the part of Arnett Gardens, combined with the shortage, combined to do in the Village United team. Both coaches expressed satisfaction with their team’s efforts. Arnett Gardens now has six points while Village United remains at two points.

Former national 400 meter champion Brandon Simpson will no longer be competing from Jamaica. Simpson won three medals at World Championships representing Jamaica between 2001 and 2005. His application to switch teams was approved by the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association; he is expected to run for the United States. Simpson, who is ranked number three in the world for the 400 meters, was born to Jamaican parents in Florida but spent most of his youth in Jamaica. The JAAA confirmed that it has agreed to release Simpson and wishes him well.

The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.

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Written by Staff Writer