Civil service wants answers on raises

At the request of its
membership, the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association is looking into pay
raises provided to more than four dozen government workers since 1 March.

The Caymanian Compass has so
far reported on two government portfolios that provided pay increases to some
of their employees between 1 March and 31 October. The reports were based on
information provided by the agencies under open records requests. The newspaper
intends to publish a third and final report once it receives responses from all
central government agencies to the Freedom of Information queries it submitted.

The pay increases occurred
at a time when the government service was considering, or had already decided
to implement, a 3.2 per cent across-the-board pay cut for central government
departments.

Civil Service Association
President James Watler said government employees were concerned that the
personnel cost-cutting activities within the service over the last year “may
not have been as absolute as they were led to believe”.

Mr. Watler said the
Portfolio of the Civil Service – one of the agencies the Compass previously
reported on – has committed
to provide the association with a list of all civil service pay increases and
the reasons given for them. He said there was no reason to believe any of the
increases were undeserved, but that “unfortunately, [the portfolio does] not at
this time know all of the rationales for the increases”.

“As
we saw in the recent round of information releases, there can be strong reasons
for making such moves, even in times of financial austerity,” he said.

Mr.
Watler was referring to recent pay rises given to staff in the Portfolio of
Internal and External Affairs, two of which equated to 18 per cent increases in
pay.

Although
the portfolio initially sent only a one-word explanation of the pay increases,
Portfolio Chief Officer Franz Manderson later explained in detail that the
raises were given for the promotion of hard-working and deserving young
Caymanians. 

Mr.
Watler noted there were many civil servants who were being asked to take on
additional responsibilities and that many were simply doing it because of what
the job required.

“We
are sure that everyone will be interested to see at what level such increased
work loads will cease to be part of the current economic reality and actually
result in effective promotion,” Mr. Watler said.

“One
thing that the current situation has highlighted is the need for the civil
service to become more regularised and transparent in its personnel management
practices,” the association president stated.

“Many
section heads responded positively to the requests for cost controls, and most
civil servants [responded] similarly to the expectations of increased work
without equitable pay, with equanimity. It would be reassuring to know that all
other branches of the service have done the same.”

Mr.
Watler said the association would seek to identify any “overt demonstration” of
unfair treatment against the membership, and pledged to investigate and respond
to any such cases.

“Equity
and fairness is not a one-way street, but it applies to both the employees as well
as to our employers,” he said.

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