Civil servants fear uncertain future

| 10/06/2013

government building.JPG(CNS): From the threat of job losses and the need to increase the retirement age, civil servants met to discuss a host of issues facing government employees last month. In the wake of the election, the body which represents the bulk of 5000 plus government and statutory authority workers raised a number of concerns it has that are affecting its membership. James Watler,president of the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association, and its management council held the meeting to invite suggestions over staff reductions, health and pension benefits, retirement age, membership grievances and the image of the civil service among other issues.

During the meeting Watler said that with the decline in staff numbers, the jobs of departing workers were being divided up and passed on to those remaining. Despite limits to how far this policy could go, he encouraged the membership to continue to do their best under the circumstances. He said the management council had been invited to discuss the issues affecting government employees, which included the declining head count.

The president said government had committed to reduce the civil service by 10%, or about 360 persons, over 3 years and it was anticipated that 175 of the budgeted headcount would be achieved by the end of June 2013.

Speaking about the proposed early separation policy or voluntary redundancy, Watler said there was no information about times or when it would be revealed. Whenever it is placed on the table, however, members should examine the implications of any voluntary separation very closely, the president said.

He also emphasised the wider public misunderstanding about CS benefits and said members do pay pension and the CS was concerned about the past service liability with which government was faced. When it came to health benefits, there were also concerns that the CS could end up subsidizing medical indigents, the under insured as well as seafarers and veterans and any discussions about potential changes in the CS health coverage should be tied into the cost of living wage adjustments, the previous pay cuts which civil servants experienced over the past five years and choice in health care provider.

“Since 2002 civil service salaries have only been adjusted downwards, failing to recognize the increasing cost of living as well as increasing workloads and responsibilities of remaining staff, resulting in a remuneration schedule that is becoming uncompetitive compared to the quality of staff which the service wishes to retain and attract,” Watler warned, as the service faces even more potential cuts. 

The enforcement of retirement at age 60 to reduce the headcount is also causing concern for government workers, especially at a time when the private sector is moving well beyond 60 as a retirement age and suggestions were made that the age be increased.

See full details of the meeting in the CICSA release posted below.

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  1. Uncivil Servant says:

    Fire us all and start from scratch. It’s the only way to get rid of the excess baggage.

  2. Yaseemi says:

    I am so sick of hearing the Civil Service whine, here in the real world, we face unemployment every day, we have had to take jobs for 50% less than we made 4 years ago if we are fortunate enough to have full time employment which provides us with the ability to have health insurance…  Personally I can't afford health ins. I can't find a job that will pay me enough to support my family ($15/hr is the best I have found) and I sit here and read this crap!  Get over yourselves and be happy you have a damn job, becasue if you aren't I would be happy to have your job for 10% less than you are making, and the government wouldn't hear a peep from me about wanting a damn raise!  You people are sucking the blood out of us in the private sector and while doing so have the nerve to complain that things aren't good enough for you!  How dare you!

  3. Lawsten Fown says:

    I really have a difficult time believing that “Since 2002 civil service salaries have only been adjusted downwards".  And what about the benefits?

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a really difficult time believing that of all the sperms that night, you were the fastest one.

  4. Anonymous says:

    "Civil servants fear uncertain future"


    Cry me a river folks. Try working in the private sector for a while where "uncertainty" is the rule, not the exception.

  5. The lone haranguer says:

    Now this going to be rough, but I am going to say it, you do not want the best and the brightest people in the country to be employed in the public service, you want the best and the brightest in the private sector generating income. This makes your country rich.

    The deal that our public servants get cannot be bettered in the private sector this is why the country cannot generate enough money to pay all our bills because all the talent is in the public service generating bills and not enough people are out there generating income.

    This is what must be done, the free pension contribution must be stopped that platinum free unlimited health plan has to be stopped and they must buy it on the open market like everybody else, big brother is not going to takecare of you, take care of yourself.

    This will knock 25 percent of the cost of the civil service and the talented people will slowly leave and go to the private sector.

    Win win.

    • Anonymass says:

      Good idea lets cut the pay of the tachers who teach our children and the nurses who care for us when we're sick, and the Customs officers we expect to make sure no one smuggles stuff in with a quick bribe. Sure sounds like a way to improve society but at least the privagte sector will be happy. (Here, $X, expedite my dynamite would you?)

      • Say again? says:

        Whoever taught you spelling in school should definitely have their wages cut.

    • Slowpoke says:

      "…free unlimited health plan has to be stopped and they must buy it on the open market like everybody else."  Wrong! 


      What we need, is to provide single payer, universal healthcare for all residents.  It is the only way to reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes.  No more "baby on a plane", HSA (who have to provide service) non-payments, personal bankruptcies, people delaying diagnosis and then facing considerably more complicated/expensive treatment…


      Let us join the real world and leave the US fantasy land.

      • Anonymous says:

        Slowpoke, it does not appear as though you know much about healthcare costs. So, who will pay the so called Single Payer? Are you willing to pay extra taxes to cover the shortfall? Have you taken a look at the mess the British NHS is in?

  6. Wonderland 2 says:

    The 5000 plus government workers are wondering how far the cuts in staff will go. Keep wondering. Because the public is wondering why it needs 5000 plus government workers.

  7. Anonymous says:

    We do need tro reduce these 5000 numbers.  We are not, nor should we be; such a socialst nanny-state.  However, to accomplsh this we need a dew things:

    1.) The NWDA to get some teeth and to stop allowing the rubber-stamping of work permits. 

    2.) We need to train our Caymanians in middle management jobs through vocational training, and job shadowing.  No longer do I want to see unemployed Caymanians for non-specialized work.

    3.) We need to GET RID OF (and NOT reward) the dead wood floating at the top of the Education Ministry.  We need to start churning out educated 5,000 children in our system (and stop that damn slang talk, your grandparents are ashamed after they worked so hard to learn proper lovely Caymanian English!)  The Education system needs to stop passingthe lemons around get some serious teachers to fix this problem.

    1,2,3 = better private sector, lower unemployment, smarter children, and reduced civil service.

    • Anonymous says:

      "2.) We need to train our Caymanians in middle management jobs through vocational training, and job shadowing.  No longer do I want to see unemployed Caymanians for non-specialized work."

      So, are you saying that non-specialised, lower tier, work is somehow beneath Caymanians?

    • Anonymous says:

      It is easy to blame Ministry of Education and the schools for the poor local education standards. I am sure there are improvements that can be made in the delivery of education.

      In my opinion, the real problem is one of parenting. Parents who are not engaged in their childs education, who do not instil a good work ethic etc.

      If every parent read a story to their child every day I bet literacy rates would improve dramatically.

    • Expat says:

      I agree, as the majority of the CS are Caymanians, you cannot just layoff hundreds of CS jobs without social upheavel from mass Cayman unemployment.

      A process must be put in place to assist the movement of CS into the private sector, there are many job skills that will be easily transferable, especially the office jobs.

      Government expenditure is way to high for a country of Cayman's size and must be reduced, but people still need jobs to survive

  8. Anonymous says:

    yo james go read the miller shaw report…..

    the civil service is an over staffed, overpaid, underworked social welfare system for caymanians….end of story.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly!! Civil service is the Caymanian welfare program. I can tell you from almost all my experiences they are def. overpaid for not having to pick up their phones, putting you on hold for hours while they catch up on gossip, never returning voicemail, passing you around to different people who also dont pick up their phone and picking up and hanging up their phones because they want to finish their second lunch of the day.

      This is my experience with Immigration, there are a few good employees and the Deputy of Government office is responsive and does their job well but the work permit and Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Boards, ROC, ROT (who have not picked up their phone in four years), amongst others are disappointing and clearly overstaffed.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Contrary to Mr Watler's claims, civil servants do NOT contribute to their pension scheme and if he does not know this he should not be where he is. They do not lose anything out of their take home pay but their payslip has a section on it which shows the employee's contribution to the scheme (paid on his behalf by government) and the employer's contribution (also paid by government). Please stop trying to mislead people, James.

    • Anonymous says:

      anon 1045 most and by quite a large margin do not pay but there are a few that do.

      As for the stupid comments about cs being overpaid, I am afraid they look at the very tops not the majority that sit at much lower levels. And ps quite a number of those CS in very high positions do have fairly high levels of education.

    • Anonymous says:

      You and the 63 other idiots who agreed with you are dead wrong. I work in the private sector and my pay stub also states” % paid by the employee and % paid by the employer. The employer are simply taking it out of their salaries and giving them the remaining amount. Are you expecting the government officer to go around and collect their portion after they/the employees go to the bank to withdraw the funds. How does your employer collect your portion? Please stop repeating stupidity and try to learn something!!

      • Anonymous says:

        I think you are the idiot here. In simpler terms – the writer above is just saying that pension contribution for gov't workers is paid in full (10%) by Government where as Private sector workers foot the 5% deduction from their salaries and the employer matches said 5%. I'll even go a step further for bird brains like yourself I.e. Private Sector worker earning $3,000 per month will take home $2,850.00 after pension is deducted yet a CS worker earning the same $3,000 will take that amount home in its entirety.  

      • Anonymous says:

        12:34, you are the one who is dead wrong and I very seriously wonder if you really do work in the private sector. If you do, your pay will indeed be decreased before you even get it by x% to pay for your contribution to your pension scheme. In the civil service (not to be confused with the "public service" which includes statutory authorities where, in some, employees do pay a portion), an employee gets EXACTLY what his/her point on one of the various salary scales says is the salary for that employee doing that job. There is NO deduction from the salary/take home pay. So if, for example, your salary is $3000 per month, in the civil service you take home the $3000. In the private sector, you would take home $3000 MINUS the x% which would be YOUR contribution to your pension scheme. So stop talking about "idiots", please, as you are embarrassing, by your ignorance, the -ahem – private sector firm you claim to be working for.