The Confederation of Public Sector Unions which represents all civil servants including Teachers and Nurses have submitted a claim to the Minister for Civil Service on Wednesday 23rd December, 2015 seeking 15% pay rise across the Board and below the level of Permanent Secretaries with effect from 1st January, 2016.
They claim that the last pay rise granted on 1st January, 2014 was comparatively off the percentage granted to the Permanent Secretaries. The Confederation argues that the relativity in the pay should be maintained in the civil service. The Job Evaluation in the public service has always addressed the relativity gap. Currently there is a pay gap of around 77% between the Deputy Secretaries and the Permanent Secretaries. This gap has a follow on effect down to the lowest paid civil servants.
The last pay rise did not adequately lift the lower paid civil servants above the poverty line threshold of $16,000 per annum. Moreover, the real wage has declined by almost 40% in the last nine (9) years and further aggravated by the rising cost of consumer goods.
The implementation of the 2003 Job Review Exercise has totally excluded the core Public Service and the Teachers. The disciplined services had a windfall and they had a major retrospective gains in the salary levels and simultaneously benefitted with general salary increase given in 2014. The government as an employer of all civil servants is not seen to be fair for consistently rewarding sections of the service particularly the disciplined services vis a vis those in the civil cadre.
The Confederation firmly believes that the civil service is at the crossroads. It has been strongly criticised from various quarters for different reasons at different times. In spite of all the inherent problems it has functioned without any major deficiencies. It states that the service has been severely weakened by wastage and staff shortage especially in the professional domain. The ordinary civil servants with all the odds against them have stood the test of the time and rendered their duties honestly and diligently. This classification constitutes the bulk of the service who are seldom heard or taken note of.It further argues that whilst the government has been pursuing a public service reform programme with a lot of fury and passion it has given little priority to the terms and condition of service including pay.
The Confederation believes that the terms and conditions should be competitive enough to attract and retain talented and motivated individuals within the service. Over rigidity may not be the option at a time when the country is faced with worsening brain drain. This has been recently proven when five (5) expatriates will be appointed as Permanent Secretaries.
There is a widespread misconception that all civil service employees earn good salaries. However, on the contrary it has been assessed that number of civil servants who are earning salaries between $12,000 to $14,000 are living on a poverty line or below. In the last 12 years the inflation rate has cumulatively brought the situation far worse than what could have been imagined. The purchasing power of the dollar also needs to be taken into account when determining the salary rates. It is estimated that the real salary rate for the civil service and many other groups remains stagnant and behind by 12 years. Therefore, the salary rates in the public service needs to be reviewed in the context of the capacity of the employees to provide the basic needs for their families.