Overtime cuts coming

| 21/08/2009

(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 by government and willing to go above and beyond to do their part. I understand the pain thiswill cause but we do not want to see mass layoffs in the service,” he said.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

     Hears a question how will some of those Civil Servants who use to make $600-$2000 in overtime protecting our boarders supplement that income now?

    Time in lieu? it will work out to the same thing government will have to hire additional employees and won’t work out to any saving.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hope that Manderson can make sure that the overtime cuts will not apply to the Immigration enforcement officers and that whatever sacrafices are necessary is made to beef up that part of Immigration The boldfaced way that people are breaking the law is sickening to the stomach. I hope that the new Chairman of the trade Board will have the guts to make sure that all of the illegal sales stalls that have sprung up around the island on the roadsides and in peoples homes are closed down! Every day I am seeing more and more these peddlers and it is becoming a real road hazzard with people pulling off to buy their wares. Up by Spotts dock there is a full fledged plant nursery operating!!! And, trust me, a bad accident is going to happen there. Twice this morning I saw accidents nearly happen as cars pull in and out abruptly there. This has got to stop! I also see another plant peddler settign up in Savnnah under the famous poinsetta trees .. right in a residential community! I know people and businesses are trying to make more sales but come on guys, go out to The Grounds or something – isn’t that suppose to be our local market place for these vendors? Just dont’ break the law like this. And enforcement people stop making them get away with it!! Where are the immigration enforcement officers or, if they need help where are the police???? Come on guys!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am not attacking Gomez or any other manager in government but I have to agree with the first poster in this thread about the poor management in some government offices which is only now being addressed.

    There are persons who need to be held accountable for the government’s present financial situation and until they are identified and dealt with I expect that this mess will continue.

    I want to know why the heck have we the public only recently heard of the dire situation that government’s finances are in? Who was supposed to be the gatekeepers? Why didn’t they ring the alarm bells and make it known that government was almost broke? If they had I am sure that things would be much different now but … "evil will prevail when good men remain silent". Nough said.

     

  4. Curious George says:

    Can anyone explain why the mosquito spraying in the evening counts as overtime anyway?  If this is standard operation, shouldn’t a proper shift be allocated to allow this practice to operate. Not all civil service jobs run 8:30am – 5:00pm. 

  5. Pro Bono Consulting Services says:

    Were you just feeling sorry for the story Monkey See?
    Problem is that if mosquito sprayers, garbage collecters, etc are in fact currently being paid overtime for their jobs, then the idiots who wrote their job descriptions and sign their cheques need to be fired immediately.
    Quite clearly, working unsociable hours should in fact be part of their job and require no extra payment by their employer.
    Additionally, would it really be more cost effective to add another salary, healthcare benefits, pension(never mind), etc instead of paying an additional wage to already salaried and willing and able employees? I don’t know the answer, just asking the question.
    Seems to me it all comes back to incompetent management yet again.

    • MonkeySee says:

      feeling sorry for the article…ummm, not really….more along the lines of: most people on here reacted to the pension freeze, the elections, the this-and-that within an hour of the story being posted.  This is an equally important discussion-prompting article and I was just surprised the commentary was nil.

       

    • Anonymous says:

      It is less expensive to pay the overtime to existing civil servants rather than hiring new employees. New employees would then attract, health benefits, sick leave, vacation, training, compassionate leave, and in some cases uniforms – you would have to pay a full salary to the new employee plus all these additinal benefits whereas for the current employee overtime is only attracting "half pay" as they would have already been paid the "one" and there would be no additional benefits. The only thing you would have to ensure is that the overtime is not excessive because excessive overtime can lead to exhaustion and illness and then the stress and extended sick leave can kick in. Heads of Departments will just now have to work for their monthly salary and find ways to schedule persons properly and all civil servants need to start pulling their weight and being accountable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Here is one for you overtime cut down corruption and bribes up hows that! ya feel me

  7. MonkeySee says:

    no comments and this has been up for a few hours already….interesting!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why the hell is Gomez making this big thing to show he’s a super manager in crises? This is precisely, repeat precisely, what he-and his other PSs- should have been doing all along as a hugely paid senior manager-monitoring, on behalf of the taxpayer, his expenditure including overtime. As a manager in the private sector, I find his present flurry of prudent fiscal activity unbelievable in the extreme. He’s Superman, saving Government in the crisis, when he should have been Manager Man, carefully watching the abuse of overtime that Auditor Generals have been speaking off for years and years. He and his like wouldn’t last six months in the private sector. Perhaps it’s significant he has made it known far and wide for many years he is totally against the fiscal reforms of the PMFl which reflect best practice in modern accounting practices.

    • Anonymous says:

      another way to safe some Funds for the Payroll in Civil Service would be to change all their Salaries and pay according to their Weight! The bigger and the heavier you are the less you get per month, you weigh the Personel quartely and adjust the pay accordingly.

      Boy could we safe some Money and it would be a healthy insentive program  too……..just kidding you hear!!!