More than 700 civil servants
attended an emergency meeting on Monday night to discuss possible wage cuts,
and pension and health insurance contributions.
The civil servants were surveyed to
determine what measures they would be willing to take to help reduce government
The Civil Service Association,
which called the meeting, has until tomorrow, Wednesday, 10 March, to give
cost-cutting proposals to the government, the association’s president James Watler
said, adding that it was unrealistic of the administration to expect detailed
responses by then.
“You do not push someone into a
corner and expect them to come up with concrete proposals, concrete responses
or answers, in such a short term,” said Mr. Watler after the meeting.
He said the government had not
provided civil servants with enough facts to enable them to come to a consensus
on what measures should be taken.
“We are not in a position to sit
down and tell government how to do their budget. That seems to be what is being
required of us. I have made that abundantly clear, we are not going there,” he
Premier McKeeva Bush, who was
accompanied by Cabinet colleagues, addressed the audience at Mary Miller Hall
at the beginning of the three-and-a-half hour meeting and answered questions
from the floor.
He denied that the government was
proposing that civil servants in a $3,000-$4,499 wage bracket would be required
to pay 50 per cent of their health insurance, despite the circulation of an
inter-office memo from Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson stating that all
civil servants earning more than $3,000 would have to pay half their health
Mr. Bush said the government was
considering taking the entire issue of health insurance contributions off the
He told the packed hall that any
cuts to public service salaries would have to be done voluntarily or by
The premier also warned contracted
staff against suing the government if the terms of their contracts are changed,
referring to a case in Barbados in the 1990s in which the government was sued
for cutting civil service salaries – a decision that was upheld by the Privy
Council. “If you believe the state in any country [doesn’t] have the authority
above a contract, go ahead,” he said.
The government officials left the
meeting early to enable civil servants to talk freely about the options before
Mr. Bush, Mr. Jefferson and
Governor Duncan Taylor travel to the UK today [Tuesday] and are scheduled with
meet with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Wednesday to discuss Cayman’s
Read more in Wednesday’s editions of the Caymanian Compass…