Civil servants wary of job cuts

Cayman Islands government workers displayed mixture of emotions coming out of last week’s meeting with Governor Stuart Jack and top officials.

According to several civil servants who attended the meeting at George Hicks High School Thursday, few specifics of how government would cut the budget were released.

Civil servants were asked to provide their own ideas as to how the budget might be reduced, or government revenues increased. Many of those ideas were contained in a draft report given to attendees at Thursday’s meeting.

All civil servants who spoke with the Caymanian Compass will not be identified in this article to protect them against possible retaliation.

Reactions following the meeting ran the gamut of relief to anger.

‘How can you make such a boo-boo with the finances?’ one civil servant asked.

Another said they felt relieved after the meeting.

‘I think we’re going to be ok,’ the civil servant said.

A few others indicated they had the distinct impression that nothing had been decided yet and that the meeting may have been more directed at calming civil servants’ fears.

‘I think it was just a public relations exercise,’ said one. Another stated: ‘I think people are going to be happily disappointed.’

Civil Service Association President James Watler said he was encouraged by Governor Stuart Jack’s pledge that all civil servants would be treated fairly in the coming months.

‘We are prepared to do everything possible to reduce costs,’ Mr. Watler said, adding that civil servants wanted to take every step available before anyone, including non-Caymanians, had to lose their jobs.

‘We’re in a vicious storm,’ he said. ‘We need all hands on deck.’

Government workers were asked to submit ideas for either new revenue measures or budget reductions for consideration ahead of Thursday’s meeting. A copy of those recommendations was obtained by the Caymanian Compass.

Civil servants making the recommendations are not identified in the document.

One proposed the implementation of a furlough for government employees on a sliding scale, with those who make more money taking a bigger loss in pay. Furloughs are essentially pay cuts where employees are required to work a certain length of time without being paid.

‘Employees who earn $5,000 per month or more, they should be the ones expecting a pay cut,’ the civil servant said. ‘The little ones under the table who get below this are trying to keep afloat with the cost of living.’

Another government employee suggested that a bond issue be floated to cover deferred salary payments to civil servants ‘until things get better.’

Other civil servants recommended that government managers focus on employee performance when deciding where to cut.