After pay raise for teachers, will police be next?
Civil service leaders insist they are still seeking to address concerns over pay inequality across government.
Acting Deputy Governor Eric Bush said the pay raise for long-serving teachers, announced last month, does not mean the issue will not be addressed in other areas.
James Watler, head of the Civil Service Association, said so far there has been no movement on the pay stagnation issue for other government workers. He said he did not expect it to be dealt with in the current budget year.
Police Commissioner David Baines said he was happy to see the issue being dealt with in the education profession and he hopes police would be next. He said a proposal has been drawn up and submitted for approval by Cabinet and he is hopeful of a decision this year.
Education Minister Tara Rivers announced last month that Cabinet had approved an immediate pay increase for teachers whose salary had been stagnant for several years.
Pay inequity, a source of frustration across the public sector, appears to be an unintended consequence of austerity measures introduced in the wake of the financial crisis.
While the pay of long-term employees was pay frozen, new arrivals have still been able to negotiate salaries in line with their previous earnings.
Mr. Bush said government acknowledged the issue and was working to address it.
He told the Cayman Compass, “Cabinet decided that the teaching profession was the first area they wanted to address. As and when government’s financial position improves, it will be addressed in other areas.”
In an administrative circular to all civil servants, Mr. Bush described the raise for teachers as a “very important development.”
He wrote, “It is understandable that the government has fast tracked relief for teachers who shape the lives of our future leaders.
“I also want to confirm that this announcement does not mean that pay stagnation across the entire civil service isn’t also being reviewed …
“We value all our employees but at the same time we must be mindful to pursue sustainable remedies which do not jeopardize the progress that we have collectively made in recent years to improve government’s financial position.”
Earlier this year, Mr. Watler warned that the issue of pay stagnation was undermining the concept of equal pay for equal work in the civil service.
Asked for further comment last week, he said, “The association and the membership leave it in the very capable hands of the Deputy Governor to action.”
Commissioner Baines said a review of pay in the police service has been completed and his understanding is that recommendations are going to Cabinet in the coming months.
He said, “We have to be able to recognize and reward the development of people, some of whom are on the same pay as they were 10 years ago.”
He said prison officers currently earn more than police officers and changes need to be made to prevent a “skill drain” and ensure the service can attract and retain the right people.
“That is not to denigrate what prison officers do, but we need to level the playing field so officers are paid a suitable wage for the complexity of the job that they do,” he added.