Civil servants: ‘We’ll take pay cut’

The Cayman Islands Civil Service
Association has indicated it will not oppose government plans to cut workers’
salaries by 3.2 per cent starting in July.

However, the group’s president has
said government might consider implementing the pay cut a bit differently than
has been proposed.

According to government e-mails and
memos obtained by the Caymanian Compass last week, the across-the-board pay
reduction would affect all civil service departments, as well as some statutory
authorities and government-owned companies as of 1 July – the beginning of the
upcoming budget year.

Civil Service Association President
James Watler said that reduction means a cut in monthly pension allotments government
workers receive. Also, any older civil servants retiring under the defined
benefit pension system next year would end up taking a lower monthly pension
payment, since their final pensions are based on their last month’s salary
before retirement.

Both situations could be avoided,
Mr. Watler said, if government would implement the pay cut as a furlough –
essentially giving government employees unpaid days off.

This would allow those workers to
keep both their current pay grade, as well as any pension payments, he said.
Civil servants would likely have to take four or five days off for the year to
make the 3.2 per cent pay cut.

“Taking unpaid leave would help
protect pensions and it would not have a direct impact on civil servants’
salary grades,” Mr. Watler said. “We urge government to consider this option.”

As far as the pay cut itself, Mr.
Watler said the idea was actually suggested earlier this year by the association,
although they proposed it only as a temporary measure.

“The Civil Service Association has
always stepped up to the plate when called upon to do so,” Mr. Watler said.

Other budget cutting measures set
out in an administrative circular from the Portfolio of Internal and External
Affairs Chief Officer Franz Manderson last week included a restriction on government
hiring and a 10 per cent cut in government payments to the Cayman Islands National
Insurance Company for health care premiums.

Mr. Manderson said those reductions
would not affect the cost of health care premiums, which are all paid by government
and are not taken out of workers’ salaries. He said CINICO, which was expected
to report a profit this year, would simply eat the extra 10 per cent cost.

CINICO was created by the Cayman Islands government earlier this decade and its
board is appointed by the government.

Government departments will also
restrict hiring in civil service departments to 25 per cent of those positions
initially requested in a draft budget proposed in February, unless additional
hiring is approved by Cabinet members. Government has been operating under a
“soft” hiring freeze since late 2008.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Civil Servants: We will take the 3.2 pay cuts

    LA members: We will take the same 3.2 pay cuts – although we make more!

    Emmmm…

    Question to the LA members and Premier: What has happened to the 20 percent pay cuts you spoke about some months ago??? And why do you allow your civil servants making below 2800 per month to feel the pinch more than you???

    TALK ABOUT FAIRNESS

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  2. Just as a matter of minor interest to democracy – has the Government changed the law for these July paycuts to occur so that breach of contract isn’t occuring for folk in the civil service on temporary fixed term contracts? People on temporary contracts have terms and conditions laid out by employee and employer that constitute contractual obligations including the annual salary. Presumably the government can do what it likes with people who are in permanent positions with the government as an employee? However, is the rule of law not of much importance? Not of much importance in a financial agreement signed by the Caymanian government? That should help the economic recovery!

    Editor’s note: Just for clarity, Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Chief Officer Franz Manderson did state in a memo announcing the pay cuts and other budget reduction measures that some laws would have to be amended to accommodate them. The Legislative Assembly has not yet taken up those proposals.

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  3. Well I work for the government. And although i don’t welcome the paycut. I will accept it. Sometimes, you must invest in the company. And do things you do not like. If you truly like working where you work.

    This is no different. Yes, that means money and budgets are tighter. But we cannot be above "the people". We work for the people, we represent the people. And if part of that representation means taking a pay cut, to show our solidarity to this country and it’s people. So be it.

    I love working for this government. I truly get a sense of giving back to the people who live on this island. As a Civil servant, I am willing to do what needs to be done to fix the problem. Are you? Long live Cayman.

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  4. Does anyone remember that constitution holiday we had last year ? That was more than just a day off work, it was a day to celebrate the commencement of our new constitution. Apparently our government was so focused on the day off they completely forgot to pay attention to what they were signing into law.

    Section 110 of the Cayman Islands Constitution, 2009 Revision, clearly states that the government is only allowed to implement reductions on employees who have not been ‘promised’ pay. Anyone who has a signed contract, which states the terms of their compensation, must agree to the changes before they can be implemented. The section goes on to state that in the event of implementation of new laws that which is deemed more favourable by the civil servant is the one which will remain in effect.

    Translation for Mr. Bush, "Our contracts, and the Cayman Islands constitution prevent you from cutting pay to the majority of the civil service. Try it and I, along with 3000 of my friends, shall see you in court."

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  5. Editor’s note reads: Just for clarity, Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Chief Officer Franz Manderson did state in a memo announcing the pay cuts and other budget reduction measures that some laws would have to be amended to accommodate them. The Legislative Assembly has not yet taken up those proposals.
    Dear Editor – as you suggest the Legislative Assembly has not yet taken up those proposals – which are unconstitutional – see CASEYG’s comment – then cutting civil service pay in July is currently against the law – so why are there announcements this Government are going to go ahead and cut civil service pay? When will this government retract these proposals? When will the CICSA have the guts to point out the failure of democracy in these proposals?

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  6. So the only alternative to the perceived unfair way of making the group of civil servants share in costs reduction by a salary decrease is to then to cut jobs? Is that fair?

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