Sanitation workers employed by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) are to receive a 25 per cent pay increase, effective July of this year.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, in making the announcement, said the daily pay rate for the workers will move from $2,000 to $2,500.

He was speaking at the inaugural Western Parks and Markets (WPM) Waste Management Limited Long Service Awards Banquet at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on February 25.

“It is the intention of this Administration to ensure that those of you who are at the lower level of the salary scale be brought up in a more meaningful way,” McKenzie said.

Meanwhile, he hailed the staff of the NSWMA for their role in improving the operations of the agency.

In commending the awardees, some of whom have served the WPM for up to 32 years, McKenzie said their collective service has been critical to the development of Jamaica.

He charged the sanitation workers “not to be overcome with fear of being marginalised,” noting that their roles are as important to the country as any other profession.

“You must never feel intimidated about your profession. You are not a second-tier or third-tier Jamaican. You are equal just like any other man or woman in this country, because you are doing what some of them would not do for themselves,” the minister said.

“The sacrifice that many of you make is great. This region of the island (Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland) has over 600 of you spread across these parishes, and you continue to provide valuable service. Don’t let anybody fool you. They can’t do without you. You are important to Jamaica’s development,” he added.

For his part, Executive Director of the NSWMA, Audley Gordon, lauded the awardees for their invaluable contributions to the entity.

“We pause with you this evening, primarily to express gratitude, to tell you thanks for the work that you did, the work that you are doing, and the work that no doubt you will continue to do,” he said.

Seventy-five workers were awarded for over 10 years of service to the WPM.

Joseph Livingston copped the award for the 2019 ‘Sideman of the Year’; Winston Lawrence received the award for ‘Driver of the Year’; ‘General Worker for 2019’ went to Yvonne Kelvin; while Hughroy Brown was named the ‘2019 Regional Operations Manager’.