Cuts could be illegal says CS
(CNS): The Cayman Islands Civil Service Association has hit out at the government’s plans to cut its benefits and has warned of the wider implications to the economy, saying that essentially cutting public sector pay will not help the current situation. CICSA President James Watler indicated that his members had not been consulted in connection with last week's announcement that government workers would have to contribute to their healthcare insurance and pensions. He suggested that the failure to consult with the wider civil service meant his members were “saddled with unacceptable, unworkable and unsustainable recommendations”, which may be illegal.
In a letter to the Deputy Governor’s Office, Watler pointed out that in previous budget discussions government had been advised to take legal advice over the “legality of unilaterally voiding the mutually agreed contracts of thousands of employees,” and noted that it could expose the government to serious liability if it breaches the contracts held by a significant percentage of the service.
The president also pointed to the human impact of the premier’s proposals, which, he said, “significantly outweigh any potential legal implications”, and queried if any assessment had been done about the economic impact the cuts would have on civil servants and their families.
“The Management Council cannot ignore the realities facing its members, who are already struggling against the ever increasing cost of living and for whom these proposals have already created significant uncertainty and anxiety,” Watler stated. “It is easily recognized that any reduction in purchasing power of public service employees will have an immediate and adverse impact on the economy.”
He noted that in the UK cuts to the public sector had resulted in a further contraction of its economy and pointed to the negative impact in Cayman when government rolled-back the cost of living allowance for civil servants, as people reduced their spending and the private sector bore the brunt, with falling sales in goods and services.
Watler claimed the civil service had done its part to support government during the economic crisis and was doing more with less. “For decades the hard, reliable and honest work of the public service has been the backbone of this society and our economy,” the civil servants representative stated.
“The public service has consistently throughout the current financial crisis done its part in supporting the government to meet the needs of the people. Every ministry and portfolio has added services for the public while at the same time reducing overall headcount. CICSA has in the past contributed effective revenue generating and cost saving measures to the government’s budget discussions. Public servants stand ready to do our part in finding sustainable, realistic, balanced and fair solutions,” Watler added.
There was still time to involve the civil service in the budget discussions, Watler suggested, but “unworkable proposals on civil servants’ remuneration” were not the solution.
He said the CICSA management council was willing to engage in open dialogue and asked for the release of all cost saving or revenue generation methods identified for transparent discussion to take place. He asked the deputy governor to address the membership directly and “explain the true position regarding the budget and any proposals that might affect them in order to alleviate the growing fear and uncertainty amongst public servants,” he said.
See Watler’s letter below.
|CICSA 2012-07-28 DG Letter (1).pdf||177.77 KB|
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