Civil servants warned about politicking

Cayman Islands government workers were warned last week by Chief Secretary George McCarthy about engaging in political activities in the run up to the 20 May elections.

That means no poster planting, no bumper stickers, no fundraising and no active participation in political meetings.

The Public Servant’s Code of Conduct states that government workers have a right to be informed about political issues and to attend public meetings. However, the code requires those individuals to remain ‘politically neutral’ to ensure the confidence of both current and future governments they might work with.

Mr. McCarthy provided some examples of inappropriate political conduct in a circular sent to civil servants on 31 March.

A civil servant should not:

*Be actively involved in political meetings by speaking, being on the platform, distributing literature or other activity.

*Write letters to the press supporting a particular candidate, or giving views on political matters.

*Canvas or collect funds in support of a political candidate.

*Hold office in or take part in the management of any political party or organisation.

*Place bumper stickers on personal or official vehicles supporting a particular candidate, political party or slate of candidates.

*Support candidates by radio broadcasts.

*Give personal views to the press on candidates or political issues.

‘Public servants are entitled to gather information, ask factual questions and take other actions to enable them to make an informed vote to the extent that their participation does not violate the requirements under the code of conduct to remain politically neutral,’ the 31 March circular read.

The Cayman Islands Civil Service Association supported the chief secretary’s statements, and asked for a more specific list of do’s and don’ts to be released in the future.

‘This is also a frustrating time for Caymanian public officers as we try to engage in this most important exercise in a meaningful way without violating our neutrality,’ a statement from the association read. ‘Perhaps the time has come for an exercise to establish expanded and clear rules so that a greater comfort level is afforded to public servants as to what can be said and done.’

Civil servants who violate the code of conduct can be subjected to administrative sanction up to and including loss of employment.

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