Archive for August 21st, 2009

Overtime cuts coming

| 21/08/2009 | 11 Comments

(CNS): As government departments struggle to deal with the budget crunch forthe financial year 2009/10, overtime cuts are being announced across a number of departments that could directly impact public services. However, Deputy Chief Secretary Franz Manderson says that those working in emergency services and law enforcement will still be meeting their full obligation to the public and there will be no blanket bans on overtime that would affect their ability to respond.

“Although no agency will be exempted from cuts all emergency services will still be responding,” Manderson said. “But we are asking them to look at cutting areas which won’t directly affect the emergencies they deal with.” He added that government’s goal was for chief officers, directors and managers to sharpen their pencils and find ways of cutting costs without undermining the essential services they offer.  “We would never ask these sorts of service providers to make cuts that would stop them from responding to emergency needs,” Manderson told CNS.

He said that law enforcement agencies such as police, immigration or customs won’t be forced to ban overtime or comp-time but reductions and better ways of doing things to cut any waste or surplus would have to be found. “At immigration, for example, it may be that it will be more cost effective for government to fill vacancies rather than continue to pay overtime to address delays at the airport,” he said, adding that it was about realistic reductions not complete bans.

In other government departments, however, blanket bans have been announced which could impact services that are not considered emergency services but are nevertheless essential. In a memo sent to the managers and heads of departments in his ministry last Thursday, Chief Officer for the Ministry of District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs, Kearney Gomez, said that no overtime payments would be made, effective immediately.

He stated that any requests for exemptions from the ban had to be made in writing to the chief HR officer with relevant supporting documentation at least one week before the overtime would be incurred. Gomez also noted that no time off in lieu or travel allowances would be permitted without approval by the ministry and that all acting and duty allowances would be stopped as of this month.

CNS contacted the ministry for an indication of the types of services that may be impacted by the overtime ban, such as garbage collection, street cleaning and other environmental health services, and is awaiting a response. It is understood, however, that one essential service to be cut could be evening spraying by the Mosquito Research and Control Unit.

Gomez stated in the memo that the “austerity measures” were a necessity as a result of the current financial situation.  

James Watler, President of the Civil Service Association (CICSA), said on Thursday that he had not yet been informed of any details of overtime bans or other cost cutting measures that would impact his members. He said that the membership had made it clear that it was willing to work with government to turn things around. “The CICSA is fully cognisant of the dire financial situation faced bygovernment and willing to go above and beyond to do their part. I understand the pain this will cause but we do not want to see mass layoffs in the service,” he said.

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