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Letter: No sacrifices by Caymanian workforce

Published on Thursday, May 6, 2010 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

The “fairly predictable” response of civil servants to say no to pay cuts and to benefits (the terms and conditions of their contracts) is no more predictable than this editorial's (“Holding the country hostage”) participation in another round of victimising civil servants, and verbally bashing them.

Civil servants are not responsible for the mess the Cayman Islands government is in, but they are expected to bail the government out of the mess. It is simply untrue to say the rest of the Caymanian workforce is being asked to make such a sacrifice, or has made it. Unemployment has come about, of course, because there is a recession, but there are not vast troops of other workers being asked to do what is asked of civil servants.

The Cayman Islands prides itself on first class, first world services, but cuts in jobs and pay and benefits pose a real danger of dragging Cayman down to third world services. Less staff, a demoralised staff, a bullied staff will not produce as well, or perform as well, if any proposed cuts are too unreasonable, too harsh, and/or unsustainable. This apparently simply solution to target civil servants to solve the ills of Cayman's financial situation is not getting to the root of the problem at all; how to make the Cayman Islands have a more sustainable economic future.

There are examples, however, of wastage that the government turns a blind eye to, e.g. why are people who are redundant from civil service posts still paid their same (sometimes extremely high) salaries? This has to stop, surely? People have to apply for new jobs and receive the salary appropriate for that position if they are successful. No doubt other readers could give other examples, such as fuel cards still in the hands of ex-employees, and more examples besides.

However, I am appalled that this editorial can be so callous. Civil servants are people with real lives and real situations - bills, families, responsibilities. They are not all living a life rolling in clover. They are hard-working professionals who go in and do a good job, a great job, a conscientious job on a daily basis, despite this kind of verbal assault seen in the media.

Civil servants also include key workers, such as social services, police, emergency services, health services and teachers. Why do you propose that demoralising and punishing people who are pillars of any society when they frequently go way beyond the boundaries of their mere job description, just because they are public servants, or civil servants?

No doubt a discussion to phase in contributions toward health insurance and pension contributions are necessary, but the idea that contracts, the terms of pay and conditions, of any employee can suddenly be broken without any form of mutual consent is at best immoral, at worst illegal, and undoubtedly counterproductive.

Civil servants are not only voters and Caymanians; they come from all over the world. If they go, or if they sue for breach of contract, the cost to the Cayman Islands could lead to even more financial problems. Stop attacking civil servants and engage in a meaningful dialogue that could lead to solutions from all working citizens of this island, not just a few.

F. Lopez
 
Reads : 1099

Comments:

F. Lopez:
Who writes these titles? I never said or implied “no sacrifices by the Caymanian workforce”. What I said was the idea that the civil service should be the solution to the economic crisis in Cayman is not just. I said the extent of the sacrifice was not equally spread amongst the workforce by this solution. I also said health insurance contributions and pension contributions should be phased into the civil service pay and conditions. I also know that job cuts will continue in the civil service by natural wastage such as retirement and non-renewal of contracts. Let a proper audit be conducted! I am, however, glad to see a 5 percent payroll tax on the table - let every working citizen pay - not just a few. Do not distort what I say!


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