Public school teachers cheered in August this year when Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly announced a plan to increase their salaries over the next two years to a minimum of $5,000 per month.
Then, on Sept. 6, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced a 5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for civil servants, which would be retroactive to July 1 this year.
However, neither of those pay increases applied to faculty and staff at the University College of the Cayman Islands.
In fact, because they do not fall under either the civil service or the public school teacher categories, employees at UCCI have often been left out in the cold when other government employees receive salary increases.
Seeking additional funding
According to a report presented to the UCCI board of governors at its Wednesday meeting, “UCCI employees have not had a cost-of-living increase since 2008 and had only a one-time payout in 2015 of a performance bonus equal to 4 percent of the annual salary.”
Board Chairman Tony Ritch said officials at the college are trying to change that.
“We’ve taken this matter very seriously,” Mr. Ritch said. “We decided to appeal to the ministry to seek additional funding come June 1 next year at a minimum.”
Mr. Ritch said he sent a formal request to the Ministry of Education two weeks ago, but has not yet received a response.
“The level of timing is really critical on this,” Mr. Ritch said. “It ought not to be a discussion that should be taking place in three months or six months.”
Instead, he said, he is hoping ministry officials can provide some clear direction, if not final details, before the end of the year.
Public Authorities Law
With the passage of last year’s Public Authorities Law, the UCCI board no longer has the authority to increase salaries or provide a cost of living increase, said Thomas Simpson, who chairs the board’s audit and finance committee.
Mr. Simpson told his fellow board members that although a UCCI remuneration policy has been approved, the college does not have a direct mechanism to fund that policy. Even so, the Public Authorities Law requires those salaries be paid at the civil service rate by June 1, 2019.
There is, however, no civil service definition for the staff and faculty of UCCI. Efforts are under way to equate jobs at the college to various civil service categories. Even with that, because UCCI operates on a contract with the Ministry of Education, it is up to the ministry to provide the funding for any salary increases.
Increased salaries to cost $1.1 million a year
The board’s chief financial officer has estimated the cost of the increases at $1.1 million per year.
Mr. Ritch said it is important for the college to be competitive when it comes to paying its personnel.
“In terms of the success of the university,” he said, “to continue to build on what we believe is a world-class institution, we believe that has to come with a faculty that can earn an appropriate salary.”
Recent raises for other government workers along with the resolution of more pressing matters for the board, such as hiring a new president, have pushed the long-standing salary issue to the fore.
“I see it as one of the top three priorities as a board as we move into 2019,” Mr. Ritch said. “I’m hoping by the end of the year we’ll have something that is clear and tangible, and that we can tell staff and faculty that change is coming.”