Gov’t: No pay rises allowed

Civil service warned about ‘increments’

Cayman Islands civil service
departments were tersely reminded last week that government employees should
not be receiving pay increases as Cayman’s public sector continues to struggle
through one of its leanest budget years in recent memory.

According to an administrative
circular sent on behalf of Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks, all chief officers,
department heads, unit managers and appointing officers were told that
“employees should not be receiving salary increment awards at this time”.

Reports have been made to the
Cayman Islands Civil Service Association about certain government workers getting
pay raises, but the Caymanian Compass has not confirmed that any raises were
actually given.

Earlier this year, the government
cut its employee salaries by 3.2 per cent across-the-board, and vowed to cut
its overall spending on personnel by some $19 million from the previous 2009/10
budget year.

A memo produced the same day as the
warning about pay hikes – 20 September – indicated that certain individual
salary increases would be allowed, but only under strict guidelines.

“It is acknowledged that there may
be circumstances where you feel that you must give the award to retain a valued
employee,” read the 20 September memo, signed by Portfolio of Internal and
External Affairs Chief Officer Franz Manderson. “There may also be other
exceptional circumstances where you feel that a payment is warranted.”

In such cases, civil service
managers were asked to receive email approval from Mr. Ebanks’ office before
additional salary was authorised for anyone.

At one point, the Cayman Islands
government had hoped to move forward with a system of merit-based pay increases
for outstanding civil servants. However, that plan – due to start in January
2009 – was scrapped due to ongoing budget constraints.

Government then took back a 3.2 per
cent cost of living increase it had provided workers in 2008 and noted the
possibility of further personnel budget cuts in a three-year fiscal policy plan
Cayman presented to the United Kingdom.

Premier McKeeva Bush said earlier
this month that further civil service pay cuts or benefit reductions were not
being considered by government. However, the Civil Service Association’s
Management Council was cautious about the premier’s statement.

“It is expected that there will be
further reviews of the public service along the lines of those carried out
earlier this year as per the agreement between the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office and the Cayman Islands government for further borrowings,” the
management council statement read. “We have communicated that there are a
number of issues regarding the staffing and management of the Civil Service,
which we hope will be addressed…especially before the possibility of any further
Civil Service cuts are entertained.”

Against this financial back drop,
one senior civil servant said it was hard to believe anyone was getting a pay
rise.

“My understanding is that no one
can be getting increases at this point,” said the civil servant, whom the
Caymanian Compass is not identifying to protect the individual from
retaliation. “How can you justify an increase?”

According to the memo sent out by
Mr. Ebanks earlier this year, a number of employee allowances within the civil
service were being drastically reduced. Those included a 50 per cent cut in
overtime pay, a 75 per cent cut in the recruitment budget and the elimination
of pay for vacation leave or comp time not taken during the year.

The elimination of any pay
increases going forward were not mentioned as part of the cutbacks. However,
the same memo indicated that all civil service salaries would be cut starting 1
July.

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