Civil service still fears job and pay cuts

| 07/08/2009

(CNS): Hundreds of civil servants packed the meeting hall on the George Hicks campus last night when they came out to hear what government officials had to say about the impending cuts to the public sector. While they were promised that there would be no redundancies or cuts to basic wages, many still said they believed there would be job losses and reductions in pay. Leaving the meeting, a number of public sector workers said while they were told there would have to be sacrifices they were disappointed that no details of those sacrifices were revealed.  Many said that although they were not necessarily anymore concerned than they already were, they did not feel reassured by the meeting.

Those who seemed the most concerned were foreign contract workers and a number told CNS that they believed their jobs would be cut once their contracts ended. However, a number of Caymanian civil servants also said they did not believe that there would not be job cuts. “We can’t address a deficit of this magnitude with just efficiencies. Despite what they say, I think jobs will go,” said one.

Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson, one of the government officials who offered a presentation, was commended by a number of those who attended the meeting as they said he gave clear and precise facts about what was going on. Although the press were asked not to attend what was described as a private meeting hosted by the Civil Service Association, Jefferson spoke to the press after the event.

He said he had talked the audience through last year’s deficit and predicted a $132 million deficit for the year 2009/10 if there were not serious reductions in operating expenditure. He explained that the figure was based on a further expected reduction in revenue and earnings of 10% and if operating costs remained the same as the 2008/09 year.

Although government deficits are not necessarily unusual around the world during a recession, Jefferson noted that Cayman could ill afford to carry such a massive shortfall. “That would be all well and good if we had money in reserve or we were a rich oil nation, but we’re not,” he said.  

Jefferson also said he told the audience that the government’s monthly HR bill for wages and benefits was $21 million. However, he said the elected government was committed to not reducing basic salaries or make anyone redundant, but where vacancies occurred those posts would not be filled unless it was absolutely necessary and jobs would go through natural loss.

He said as far as contracts were concerned, chief officers would have to think hard about the need for renewals — an area that will impact foreign civil servants.

James Watler, President of the Association, said that he was really pleased with how civil servants were rallying together to help reduce the deficit, and he said that his association was against any form of job losses, be it local or foreign civil servants, and he was not differentiating between the two. He said the governor, Stuart Jack, had promised he would protect jobs.

“We are not separating the sheep and the goats,” he said. “We are all in this together and the governor has promised he will look out for civil servants’ jobs and that all public sector workers are treated fairly. We know there will be sacrifices but the service is standing shoulder to shoulder though this storm and we will get through it,” he added.

Civil servants also heard from Gloria McField-Nixon, the new chief officer in the portfolio, who said that, despite changes to the Public Management and Finance Law, the civil service had not increased as much as the public has been lead to believe and had grown in the last five years by 18% and not as high as had been suggested by 48%. She further noted that the civil service had reduced since January of this year down to around 3,199 employees today.

James Watler said that he believed the recruitment freeze introduced earlier this year had helped to reduce numbers and that it would continue to keep the wage bill down as others left and were not replaced. He also said that many, many ideas had been submitted to the portfolio about cutting costs and already some had been implemented, according to officials, but Watler said they were not told exactly what those were.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So tell us CNS who is this AtWater Consulting Company that  Mac has engaged and how much has the goverment paid them since 20th May 2009 ?

    • Anonymous says:

       That sounds like a Freedom of Information request and you can do that yourself!

    • Anonymous says:

      Atwater Consulting.

      Is Pilar Bush invoved by any chance?

  2. Anonymous says:

    The meeting was a waste of time! And what a load of rubbish.

    They are simply focusing on the wrong issues i.e. trying to save  10 cents, but they are ignoring the $$$ dollars.Yes there are certain efficiencies that need to be looked at but unfortunately not all of the ones they are trying to examine. Any good organisation is continuously looking at them – and not waiting until a crisis is facing them to implement cost-saving measures. The suggestions for cost-savings speak of the usual micro-management practices that is all too prevalent in Government, and shows up the leadership who cannot obviously think out the box, and has never worked a day in the private sector.

    Why is’nt anyone looking at the real issues and what the fundamental problems are? Such as our tax base for the so called 5th Largest Financial Centre in the World , which is now very obviously out of step with our pace of development.

    We are taxing our own people to death, treating them like common criminals when they arrive from Miami at the airport going through their little shopping, but yet the people who come here and make millions a year are being ignored. I say tax anyone who is making more than say $150,000 per annum in Cayman, so that we can redistribute the wealth. Then the OECD and others will lay off of us, and we would’nt have to worry about so much INWARD INVESTMENT.

    Why anymore INWARD INVESTMENT when Caymanians cannot get jobs, and foreignors are given preference. These things are what the focus should be on. Who are we developing these islands for anyway if our people cannot get jobs then crime will only escalate.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Well if you have to judge by the action of Premier Deignate there is no economic down turn in Cayman. This whole thing is just scare tactics to put fear into the civil service. Afrter all if things are as bad as the Premier Designate states why is he spending so much money?

    Why is the government building houses for civil servants that earns $4,200 per month?.

    Why does Mac have a driver that earns $5,000 per month?

    Why does Mac have 2 security guards a $65,000 tahoe that uses 1 gallon of gas every 8 miles? Why all the fancy travel trips, who is paying for these?

    In Cayman Brac they are building a socialist empire. Everyone is on the government dole list. There is a lady that has a medical condition that ovwes the hospital over $70,000. She receives a monthly stipend and she has a work permit for a lady who do not even work for her. What madness is happeig in Cayman BraC. A lot of the hurricane relief supplies came back to Cayman and were shipped off island. People are being built homes that never had a home before (I agree this is good in the long term).

    Absolute madness. The UDP will do everything except something that will empower the people. The will make the poor people dependent on the UDP ministers. God help us.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Are you all still blind. Jack in on a mission to destablise the country. First there was the curious Commission of Enquiry concerning Minister Clifford revealing corruption in government and missing files….the message to civil servants was that if they dare expose corruption in government this is what will happen to them. This cost the country $250,000. Mr. Jack where is the Commission of Enquiry into the ACTUAL corruption that Clifford exposed ???

    Then there was Operation Tempura which alleged corruption in the RCIP. Have we seen any real corruption exposed yet ? NO !!! We have not yet finishing racking up costs forthis investigation but so far the bill exceeds $6M, including law suits for unlawful arrest !!!

    Then there was the Judicial Tribunal into Justice Levers conduct. Mr. Jack said that there were serious allegations and that this tribunal was necessary. The tribunal has taken place and the allegations amount to nothing more than internal juvenile squabbles within the courts office. This has cost the country $3M plus whatever the cost of settling the inevitable law suit from Levers will be. Probably another $1.7M

    Then there is the fact that we have two people sitting in the LA, one of which is a Minister, who are not qualified to be MLAs and Mr. Jack sits by and endorses the AG’s decision to take no action to ensure that our constitution is unheld and respected and that ALL member of the LA are qualified to be members of that Honourable House.

    Mr. Jack’s PR strategy since he took office has been centered on him being the Champion of Good Governance when in fact his actions have embraced BAD GOVERNANCE in the Cayman Islands.

    Look at what his actions have cost this country. Let us not fool ourselves this is a global recession and most countries around the world are in a recession and carrying significant deficits but our deficit has been made much worse by this Governor’s actions and inactions !!!

    The UK’s plan is working. Take off your blinders Cayman.

    IT IS TIME FOR JACKTO GO and for us to rethink our relationship with our estranged "Mother" !!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    the global economy slow, the Cayman economy slows, Cayman government revenues falter, one political group blames the other, of course the Civil Service gets beat up, there are talks of cuts, there are some "cuts"… 

    Hmnnnnn… seems to happen on a 6-10 year cycle so nothing really new, eh?  Oh yes, we should be able to deal with this, right? 

    Unfortunately not, the persons now at the political helm (including Ken J, Sam B., George Mc/Paul Byles) have no experience in dealing with this type of situation.

    Civil Servants beware of platitudes – things will have to change if we are to survive this.  But first please find Peter Gough and Tony Dale and send them to fix the problems in New Zealand.  Get back to running the Cayman Islands Public Service along sensible grounds.

  6. Concerned Native says:

    What a bunch of nothing said at that CICSA meeting on Thursday, Aug 8, 2009 at 5pm

    Mr. President yor voice is like a symbol without drums; Donnie, Ken, Gloria you all should not have been there cause you just talk out of both side of you mouth; Mr Jack who do you think you are fooling with you agenda to seek and destroy this little traquil place which is evident by your mishandling of it. YOU MR. JACK IS THE REASON CAYMAN IS IN THE MESS IT’S IN. You made the wild horses get out of the corral. You messed up big time or were you sent here to mess us up like we are? 

    When you are the CEO of a company, which Cayman is a big Company, and things go wrong the CEO is the first to get replaced because they are the big decision makers, right or wrong. Thought so! When the CEO of the Cayman Islands has the outright guts to face his employees and say that in order to cut the deficit there will not be a stream lining of the civil service that alone calls into question his leadership abilities not to mention this borders on lieing to saveface.

    It was about 2000 civil servants in attendance and not one will tell you that you, Mr. Jack has done a job that would earn anybetter than an ‘F-‘. If I’m correct, you sanction the spendng the elected or nonelected arms of the government undertakes and if you overlooked that monstrous catastrophy in spending spree the PPM went on you should be held accountable. You can’t tell your employees that although they make up the highest % of the deficit their jobs are going to be safe. That is a huge lie. Furthermore, if you are telling your staff and the shareholders that there will be no further taxes to offset te deficit, that is another Huge lie. Cayman Demand the Mr. Jack come clean and clear with the people and call a spade a spade. 

    My advice to the CIVIL SERVICE is to brace for what we term in the real world, "Amalgamate and Eliminate". E.G. A indefinate vacation of the New Zealand accounting (muddled up queer) system will take place and the current portfolio of finance will have total autonomy as to all financial and reporting matters; the portfolio of civil servce would have total autonomy for personnel matters. Then lets get back to real Govrnmental accounting and eliminate some of the units/departments that can be made redundant.

    Last but not least, I was trying very hard to stay away from the last resort to fix this problem an that is to embark on a go low until someone heeds our cry.

    Civil Servants let’s get this good ship Cayman back on track and make our home  contnued place to live and love.

    • backstroke says:

      AMEN, some one finally see that the New Zealand crap that was brought in here a few years ago is stifilling this country, how in the world the rest couldnt see it. Oh yes england is winning on this one, conquer and divide

      • Anonymous says:

        Re the posting by "backstroke:.  I’m glad somebody has put the finger on the real source – that New Zealand fiasco that has never worked anywhere else is working for us in a most detrimental way. Stop blaming politicians, somebody take back the reigns.

  7. Anonymous says:

    There are just so many ways for money to be saved, but the so called leaders should set an example.  Many senior civil servants drive around in goverment vehicles and do not pay for gas.  This is a ‘perk’ that should be dropped.  Some of them drive big trucks and you tell me why these people need gas guzzling trucks just to go back and forth to their office?

    Regular workers are being asked to give up certain little things or have stuff taken away from them yet the senior staff perks remain the same.  If there is one way to lower moral this is it!

    Yes – some government workers are simply on the gravy train and should be let go, but the bosses are even worse!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is not a real problem it, and many others, can be funded by a few simple steps:

    1.Legalize Casino and Lottery products.
    2.Control and legalize prostitution (new tourists, as in Holland, Thailand, Germany).
    3.Decriminalize, control and tax (heavily) all (“illegal” but readily available)drugs (see the benefits in Portugal).
    4.Raise duty on gasoline, but exempt taxis, buses, trucks, etc. (encouraging people to use public transportation, bike, walk…)
    5.Tithe all weekly church collections (True Christians want to share evenly and not just within their own church).

    TADA – problems solved…

    • Anonymous says:

      cayman brac and little cayman doesn’t have bus service. don’t think i feel like riding a bicycle up the bluff to take my baby to daycare.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the usless, unfriendly, inefficient workser in Government will do some work and crack a smile to save thier jobs….but honeslty some of ’em just need to go!

  10. Quincy Brown says:

    Cuts will come….or direct taxation i.e. a percentage from your paycheck to go on building roads, a percentage to go on building schools, a percentage from your paycheck to go on land tax.  Which would you rather? Cuts or direct taxation?  One or the other will happen sooner rather than later.  Oh – and our elected representatives will always get a raise… they deserve it though…don’t they?


    Quincy Brown

    • Anonymous says:

      An undated photo released by The
Universityof Cambridge shows a rook, a member of the crow family, as it drops stones into a tube to raise the water level and
bring a worm into reach. (AP)


      Aesop’s Crow…a UDP CROW…

      Step 1)Throw Civil Servants (stones) in water (money)

       2)raise water

      3)drowned stones

      4) drink water..

      5).ahhh refreshing

  11. Anonymous says:

    Mac says we have no money….and he must cut the civil service and their salaries. But he’s going to Dubai, China, India and London to office more Investment Bureau offices and his proposal for cruise and cargo facilities won’t cost the $200M that the PPM’s proposal for cruise and cargo would have cost….Mac’s proposal is going to cost approximately $450M…..and that’s Mac’s version of being fiscally responsible.

    Then he wants to move the airport out to the east too. That won’t cost the $100M that the PPM’s proposal to redevelop the Owen Roberts Airport and build an airport in Little Cayman would have cost. The move to the east will cost approximately $200M. And that’s Mac’s version of being fiscally responsible.

    And the civil servants need to ask Mac how much AtWater Consulting is costing the government for tourism advice now that he has removed all of the tourism expertise from the Ministry……and then ask him which two former DOT employees are involved in the consultancy.

    Can you say West Bay land deal !!!

  12. R. Stripe says:

    It was very enlightening to be at the meeting last night and see who my fellow civil servants are. It’s all too easy to sit back in our own circumstances and forget we are truly part of a large family. 

    Having said that, I think the "head of the household" needs to be straight forward with his family (I’ll leave it for you to decide who the "head of the household" is because I have not seen a true leader yet). 

    Fellow civil servants, it’s all fine and dandy for us to become more efficient, we should have been doing that a long time ago. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that printing on both sides of the paper and turning off the lights at night is going to save your jobs. What sense is it for us to sharpen up on our chores if Daddy is going to go spend money we don’t have? What’s worse, he’s going to go spend the money on some other family’s business instead of using his own children to do the job. This after spending money to send his own children to school to learn how to do the job! Makes no sense.

    I was told an interesting story this morning about a failing mega bank who, instead of firing their employees, continued to pay them but did not give them any work to do. It was only a matter of time before employees became demoralized to the point where they just quit on their own. It’s as if the boss didn’t just have the guts to be honest.

    So my plea to the powers that be: if you truly want to leave a legacy after your term in office, have the guts to be honest with your people! And by ‘your people’, I’m not talking about the faceless billionaires with bank accounts here, I’m talking about us, the civil servants who are the vehicles by which all these profitable transactions are made possible through stable governance. If you continue being dishonest with us, things will get unstable real fast – sound familiar?

    Ok Mummy and Daddy, we’ve had our little CISCA meeting, we’ve bounced some ideas around, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? Are you going to continue to passively let people rot in their jobs until they either keel over and die or find the strength to leave? The reason we are inefficient is because you have LIED to us for too long! You tell us you need us, but you hire someone else to do the job (which ends up costing too much and being totally overkill or unsuitable).

    If the truth is, you don’t need us, then tell us! Whether I have a professional degree or I’ve been pushing a broom since high school, have the guts to explain why we’re here. All you learned professors out there know about government and how it works. I’ve heard Government called a "necessary evil" or a "charity" in some instances. Fine and dandy, those who know this and have milked the system, good for you! But Daddy and Mummy, it’s time you come clean and teach your own blood children how to work the system instead of letting those adopted orphans sit here and work the system for their own benefit. They may make "ideal" civil servants, but they will never understand the power of blood brothers! 

    Now more than ever you need "people persons" to lead, not the autocratic style seniors that may have been necessary in the past but have now become redundant and have milked the system long enough.

    May God bless us all! 



  13. Anonymous says:

    One Word here People :

    Casino. Kenneth is right, it would be all fine if we were an oil rich nation – but we are not. Legalize and tax gambling and lottery. Like it or not it is already happening here (not so) underground.

    This would make up our deficit no problem, and bolster economy in other ways – more cruise ships and they would stay overnight – downtown would come alive at night with cruise ship shoppers and restaurant goers.

    I can already hear – yes- there are some not great side effects – but can be mitigated by enforcing rules and part of revenue can go to expanding police (and properly train and make it a professional force). can also have such rules as in bahamas where residents cannot enter. Before the religious and self riteous blast away, this is a legitamite idea that needs to be examined, for teh long term benefit fo Cayman.

  14. Anonymous says:

    How can the civil service NOT grow when there is a constant demand from politicians and the public alike for new services-more teachers for new schools, more policemen to fight rising crime, more social workers to cope with increasing poverty and social decay, more immigration officers to implement the rollover and other aspects of the Immigration Law etc etc? In these circumstances, the 18% growth rate mentioned by Mrs McField-Nixon is not as bad as people who like to beat up the Civil Service think.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Recruitment freeze??? No NEW jobs? Check job opportunities.!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Since it is an absolute requirement to be able to maintain yourself and your dependants as a condition of the grant of PR, and if you cannot, the law says it should be revoked, why are millions of dollars being spent to house,clothe, medicate and feed  such persons. Cut them off ! Let the money be used where it is needed, not squandered on persons who lie on applications.