Letters to the Editor: Cut chiefs, not indians

Much has been said lately about the
need to cut the size of the public service; however, such a statement hides the
fact that not all employees are of the same importance to an organisation that
serves customers or the public.

In organisations that serve
customers – for government, the public – employees may be divided into line and
staff. Line employees are those who deal directly with customers or the public;
for example, those who issue you a driver’s licence. Line employees include
those who work at processing the intake of other line employees; for example,
those who process the documents submitted for work permit applications. Staff
employees are those who do not deal directly with customers or the public; for
example, those who work in the human resources or finance function.

To put the matter another way,
staff employees are the chiefs and line employees are the indians. This usually
has the unfortunate result to customers and the public that, with chiefs doing
the cutting of staff, it is the indians who get cut; witness the shortage of
nurses in the United States and the surplus of sexual harassment coordinators
(for those of you who have never worked in an organisation with the latter,
these are the employees who are supposed to prevent sexual harassment, not
coordinate it). In North America, what the indians should do in America often
gets out-sourced so that, even though you may be in Omaha, Nebraska, you end up
seeking help from someone who is in New Delhi. Of course, we don’t have to go
that far; in Cayman, we have to obtain directory assistance from a person on
another Island.

I would request that when head
count cuts come in the public service, as it appears they will, the chiefs have
the good sense to cut their own numbers and leave the indians alone. This will
have the added benefit that, since chiefs make far more money than indians, the
cost of running the public service will be reduced substantially.

Paul Simon


  1. I think the main issue the general public have with the civil service is the size of it. Overemployment in government is so obvious that taxing the private sector and protecting the civil service just rubs salt into the wound. How can a government of such a small nation, with such a huge budget, get it so wrong?

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