Civil Servants asked to do their bit

| 10/10/2009

(CNS): The president of the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association has called on his members to go way beyond the call of duty to do their bit to help fight the economic crisis. In a letter distributed to the membership this week, James Watler encourages civil servants to face the challenge, keep focused and stay the course. He asked them not to throw up their hands in despair but to fight on to defeat what he described as a tempest. Despite threats to both their pensions and salaries, in the end the 2009/10 budget did not cut pay or jobs within the public service.

“You and I as civil servants need to recharge our batteries and be prepared to pitch in and do our part in helping make this a reality.  You and I have a vital role to play in embracing the opportunities afforded us as we join hearts and hands together in reaching the goals set before us,” Watler wrote to the members. “The severity of this global economic and financial crisis has only hardened our resolve as committed and dedicated Civil Servants who are prepared to persevere as we face this challenge head on and not let down our guard for even a moment.  As we brace ourselves no doubt there will be many economic and financial tribulations, despite this we need not fear as we will transform this challenge into a golden opportunity to refortify the Cayman Islands economy and attain financial strength.”

He noted that public sector workers were no strangers to hard work and reminded them that they had been through many challenges, difficulties and problems of all sorts in the past. 

“Do not let down your guard, persevere and give it your very best.  Prepare yourselves to go way beyond the call of duty in ensuring that your efforts produce the fruits intended to propel us forward and therefore out of the clutches of the financial and economic storm,” Watler said in his letter.

He said these were exceptional times as the world’s financial and economic systems have begun to crumble but despite that he asked the membership to persevere.

“As true Civil Servants we will be the bridge that will build a sustainable path to recovery with the help of Almighty God who we must depend upon for wisdom, knowledge, understanding and strength to accomplish this task,” he added.

Although in the beginning the civil service was targeted for cuts firstly to employee pensions and then to their actual salaries, in the end workers were spared either imposition.

There has actually been considerable criticism since the budget was tabled that the service has not been cut while so many fees have been increased instead in order to balance the budget.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “As true Civil Servants we will be the bridge that will build a sustainable path to recovery with the help of Almighty God who we must depend upon for wisdom, knowledge, understanding and strength to accomplish this task,”

    Yet another example that shows that the churches are at the root cause of all of Cayman’s problems.

    • Johnny Cake wid a cup of coffey(e) says:

      If I have never met an idiot before, or one that has little sense, well I can comfortably say: it is nice to meet ya.

      give me the cream ya and sugar because this one needs to settle.

  2. uffa says:

    So it apears that most people (even Caymanian civil service workers) agree… the Civil service is loaded with people who not only have no intention of performing but actually make others around them feel bad if they try to work. This has been a very large part of the problem Caymanians face when they want to get a job.  The idea that Caymanians don’t make good workers is based of facts! Facts that everyone that has had anything to do with business ,employees and employers have seen with their own eyes. This has been happening for so long that it is a given and not just in goverment.  The waitress that sits at the bar while everyone else works.  The Caymanian that sits back and smokes all day while the expat crew does all the work. And on and on and on. Everyone has seen it everywhere on Cayman.  For all of you hard working Honest Caymanians that can’t get a job…..THIS IS WHY!!  Its not the business owner that does not want a Caymanian worker.  Its Business owners that do not want the added expense of a non worker.  The only way this is going to change in your lifetime is by Not letting non performing workers have jobs AND the Caymanian workers that do have a job perform well enough to change the current perception of Caymanian workers.  Forceing non working  non qualified Caymanians on Business has just added fuel to the fire.  Your Goverment is giveing fish and not teaching anyone to fish.  Get real Cayman or take your island back and turn your back on the rest of the world.

    • ex-expat says:

      So true,

        I bought a truck from a Caymanian friend of mine so we went to the license bureau to get it signed over.  There where two young Caymanian girls working the counter.  After half hour of waiting in line we get to the counter and my friend who knew the girl asked about her family.  She took the papers to the back and returned 20 minutes later.  Then she said that we have to get back in line for the other girl as she was going to lunch.  My Caymanian friend turned to me and said "Thats why I don’t hire Caymanians." And that is also why no business wants to.  And no one should blame them.  Thats also why the goverment has and will continue to throw hard earned (but not by them) money away. And loose whatever credibility they might have left.  Its also the main reason why we left.  If this ever changes we would love to come back but it has just gotten worst.

  3. Anonymouse says:

    Civil Servants have done NOTHING to help lessening their burden to the community…

    While most workers are taking paycuts and paying their share of pension and health premium, the Civil Servants expect it all at the cost of the taxpayers:

    – Full pay, no matter if the economy is destroyed in the process…

    – No culling of the 3,700 herd of Civil Servants…

    – No contribution to their pension and health premiums…

    – Any Pensions shortfalls – due a bad economy or mismanagement of the pension funds – to be made whole by the taxpayer as a matter of LAW!…

    Civil Servants costs represent 54% of the budget and the culling must beginning there, if operating costs of the government are to be brought under control, as required by the CFO…


  4. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t have any problem with the idea of a 2% cut. Fact is we all must give something. Add that in with a 2% duty increase and I figure I would have contributed my per capita share of this debt that was run up in these tough economic times.

    But I would ask one thing in excahnge for that 2% cut…  will my department finally start providing the public holidays that they are required to by law?

    I have already given "above and beyond." I work through breaks and our department head says no comp time is owed. I work through lunches which helps my department get by with fewer staff.

    I work public holidays and our department head says we are not to be given that time back (which is done for police, prison, and ambulance staff) nor additional pay (which is done for the fire service). That’s 88 additional hours, about two weeks of extra work, at no pay every year.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again.  Joe Average and others on their usual "I hate the Civil Service" antics and trying desperately to discredit Civil Servants.  Don’t you all even realize what you are saying.  Some Civil Servants are good, but some are bad.. well how many?  is half of them good and half bad?  No matter how you slice it the vast majority of you are simply doing one thing and one thing only, painting the entire civil service with the lazy, inept brush.  This is no differnt from any other country, the Civil Service always gets beaten up in this way.  And of course we are to then assume from the rantings that there is absolutely no inefficianecy, no laziness, no ineptitude in the private sector, right?  I could tell the bunch of you some stories.  Look leave James Watler alone, he is a hard-working and smart-working man, dedicated to serving his country.  The fact is, yes he has taken a position different from you.  He also offered solutions to the problem, as a way of earning the right to keep his salary, pension and health insurance.  What are you all offering?

    I would love to know who exactly it is that Joe Average works for because the amount of time you spend on CNS (I only come on at nights before any of you try to make a smart-*ss comment) I am sure your employer isn’t getting 100% out of you either!  The contempt that you show for the Civil Service is unusal to say the least.  Is someone paying you to come on to CNS and bash us, or is this just your favorite hobby? hmmmmmm.

    I also notice that not one of you (with the exception of 10/10/09 16:19) could even offer one constructive comment about the fact that the man is addressing his members to raise morale and productivity, which will be to your direct benefit.  Attack us all you want.  It’s not a new tactic, we’re actually quite used to it.  But we put forward ideas on how to solve this problem, we worked a budgetthat reduced costs, we have been looking at every option, whether small or large.  Put your solutions forward.  But the fact is the only solution you have is, "oh cut civil servants, cut their pay, cut their benefits".  Fine, what are you going to do next year?

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you 100%. I am from the U.S., and we are, and have been going through this since the economic downturn. When things were going well, the private sector made snide remarks that government workers were "low-paid" workers. It was their (civil servants) fault that they decided to work for the government. Apparently, assuming they will always just be a middle class person of society, and never make the riches that the private sector had to offer.

      Well, now that the tables have turned, here in California, a famous radio station, KFI 640 AM, the John & Ken show, have been targeting government workers for the past 2 years about their pay, medical & pensions. So much so, that now in Los Angeles, the government is cutting firefighters, police officers….parks are no closing on certain days, so are other crucial offices such as Motor Vehicles….. I mention the name, because they have been target of some of political figures saying that due to this radio show, some people can’t get fair criminal trials, the immigration debates, taxes, tea party protests, etc. across the country.

      I don’t believe that private sector should be able to run everything. There needs to be a balance between private sector and government sector. Example, the banks and private industry in the U.S., for the past 8 years, private sector made all decisions,  now look at the state of the U.S.

      On a news channel here in California – today at 6p.m. they had a segment on homeless people in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was interesting, because one of the homeless men they interviewed had on a dress shirt, slacks, and spoke with excellent grammar (reminds me of someone who probably had a 5-6 figure job in private sector- some kind of professional), well, he was sleeping under the bridge which was under one of the casinos. BTW, his female companion accompanied him. No he didn’t look homeless, nor did he look like he was a drug addict.

      Then here’s a case of letting private sector run amok – id=2191&ct id=4 the title of this article "USVI Pueblo Supermarket Owner Arrested" 9-17-2009, the owner is alleged to have stolen $1 million of electricity. ***this is alleged.

      When I say run amok, there’s private sectors here in the U.S. that have laid off millions of workers, have their hands out for taxpayers funds, only to uproot and move to another country in search of cheap labor. There are abandoned factories throughout the U.S.

      The jobs left here, most are filled with legal/illegal immigrants. There was one employer here in the U.S. that used a stolen social security number 99 times  for some 99 of the illegal immigrants he employed. There was a guy that had escaped from a prison in El Salvador, and came to work here, no employer verified his information until he got in big trouble.

      Then in Las Vegas, a couple of years ago, I was staying at a hotel. The hotel hired all illegal immigrants that didn’t speak English as housekeepers. I constantly heard the guest yelling, "get someone here that speaks English." I guess they had questions or requests and couldn’t communicate – but look at Las Vegas now, you can literally get a room for $20-50 bucks, much less than 2 years ago. All behind saving a buck, revenues are down, real estate investors lost big……

      With the anti-government / anti-big-government sentiment in the U.S., I shudder to think what’s next. If things continue to get worse, who knows, maybe I’ll be looking to live in a third-world country. Afterall, I feel like I’m living in one now.

      • Joe Average says:

        "With the anti-government / anti-big-government sentiment in the U.S., I shudder to think what’s next."  

        That’s an interesting comment.  But what you are witnessing is not anti-government or even anti-big-government per se.  Instead, in the States and elsewhere, what people are seriously beginning to question is whether government works for them or not at all or someone else.  And they are doing it more vigorously as they are being asked by governments everywhere to "tighten their belts", or make concessions for "the good of the country", and accept that none of it was government’s fault it was the boogey men on Wall St.  Well as a matter of fact government was supposed to watch out for them.  And on the opposite hand watch out for us.  As we paid them quite generously to do that.  It is also hard to comprehend how anyone..banks entrusted with people’s money..or governments entrusted with economy’s futures, didn’t see it coming.  The fatal mistake made as all this phantom money was being manipulated and real money was being made was simply that they forgot:  WE are the economy.  Upon that breathtaking realization… we were then asked to "tighten our belts, etc."  And to simply accept the consequences of all the mis-management of OUR money!  Because somehow someone dis-associated the government’s money from our own.  When in reality it’s the same thing.  This argument is used time and again.  Sometimes we almost believe it.  How’s that for being confused??

        Only when discussions like this take place do people have an opportunity after listening to all the spin to ask the valid questions.   Where, how, and on what is their money is spent?  And they require justification.

        Right now civil servants are taking the brunt. The reality is folks we’re asking the wrong ones.  I don’t blame them for getting defensive.

        In the States right now the question is rather moot.  They don’t have any money!!! 

        We don’t want to end up there also!  But recent developments point to the fact that we’re damn close!  Too close for comfort.

        • Anonymous says:

          Joe Average, you are deep. I like that! This cause for greater debate.

           However, one must remember, you can cut all the little guys from government, but, do you think the top guy will do the work the little guys do?

          Government workers take a lot of crap all the way around. They get it from the top, as well as the public. This puts them under a tremendous amount of stress. Believe it or not, yes they can be fired. Perfect example, look at what happened in the debate of Angelic Howell – people tried to take her down. The chief decided against this. In other circumstances, as with other states, countries, the chief could have sided with the people. This goes to show, yes, they can be fired, whether it’s public opinion, lack of confidence, lack of competence….

          But, let’s not forget, in the private sector when things were going well, employees got stock options/rights, top pay, 401k, bonuses, trips…the civil servants got medical, pension. The difference between the two does not compare or compete. 

    • Joe Average says:

      18:47 actually, I work.  And….on my OWN time I make comments when I see or hear something ridiculous, odd, unusual, or important.

      It was unfair to "paint" all civil servants with the same brush.  But you yourself must admit from some other posts and even some from those who work within in the civil service.  That there is indeed a problem.  That being a sense of entitlement and as one poster put it "I can’t be fired".  Now, this isn’t unusual within any civil service.  They are in most cases a powerful lobby, union, "association?".  And the threat they constantly hold out to government is that if they are messed with they will withhold services, call in sick.  Or strike.  If any of those tactics are enacted the government then takes the brunt from the public.  And don’t be deluded….government is aware of this.  Moreso here because of the votes involved.

      As for my own career, as I said I… was in the civil service.  Prior to that I had developed a work ethic which seemed workable.  That is I was always aware that I was getting paid to do something.  And if I didn’t I would suffer the consequences.  This is something that gets instilled early in a career.  And, after moving from the private sector, I was confounded.  There seemed to be too many people doing just a few jobs or the same job.  Because there seemed to be too many supervisors and under-assistants and officers simple tasks were turned into a ballet of sorts.  Note that this didn’t take place in Cayman.  What people are finding annoying aside from this reality is that, while we are all being asked to make sacrifices right now because of our predicament, and without much choice, the civil service itself has made no concessions.  No reduction in salary and/or numbers. And pensions and health insurance will still be gratis. When it is obvious that will help some.  Some cell phones have been taken away.  That’s it.  So it wasn’t terribly painful to civil servants. But there were some who were agreeable to taking a slight pay cut.  We appreciate that.  Don’t be mistaken.

      But to be clear my comment was about the letter sent out to the association.  It appeared like so much rhetoric.  Like a sermon.  All fire and brimstone.  Or even a pep talk.   Maybe you need it.  But between the lines… "you can give thanks now.  no concessions to our numbers, wages, or benefits."  So as our concession let’s do what’s expected of us."   The question is for awhile?  As an overall work ethic?  Or was it all said for our benefit?

      No disrespect to Mr. Watler but what he failed to realize is that the public doesn’t expect super-human effort or a whirlwind of activity.  Just some concessions and they didn’t happen.

    • O'Really says:

      We don’t have to try to discredit Civil Servants, they are quite capable of doing this to themselves through the various faces they display to the public. Do you, for example, believe that the CICSA’s rejection of any cutbacks in salaries or benefits endears Civil Servants to the general public who are not insulated from the economic downturn by a compliant government? Yes, I know not all Civil Servants are members of CICSA, but they all dodged the bullet.

      Maybe you have never had to stand in line at immigration, customs, Port Authority warehouse, vehicle licencing, lands and surveys, the list goes on, wondering why there seems to be 3 people standing around talking and/or eating for every one person serving the public ( and I use this phrase very loosely ). I recognise that dealing with the public is not always a simple or pleasant job, but the ability to do the job under difficult conditions should be, but obviously is not, a pre-requisite for getting the job in the first place. I’m sorry, but dealing with the public face of the Civil Service for anyone other than a direct blood relative of the person standing behind the counter is a frustrating, slow and painful experience, often requiring the kissing of usually not insubstantial butts.

      I love the comment about inefficiencies, laziness and ineptitude in the private sector. Straight out of the " two wrongs make a right" school of logic. Of course such inefficiencies exist in the private sector, but one difference is that if I face rude, surly and inefficient service in a restaurant I can simply not go back. Oh that this option were open to the public with say immigration! But of course the major difference between public and private inefficiency is that I have to contribute to paying for the public version.

      James Watler has a different position to me? I would say so, because unlike him, I can’t dip my hand into someone else’s pocket to keep a dollar in mine. Harsh? That’s have a look. 

      1) Original proposal to cut salaries by 2% only until 2010 and only for those earning over CI$3000 per month. REJECTED. Alternative solution impose a transaction fee of 2% on overseas money transfers. No impact on Civil Servants but a big impact on the poorest sector of the working community and no indication that this will be temporary.

      2) Original proposal to implement a " pension holiday" only until June 2010. REJECTED. Alternative solution, increase work permit fees leading directly to the removal of the obligation of private employers to fund pension contributions for their employees. No impact on Civil Servants pensions. Wish I could say the same for the private sector employee.

      3) The Government was originally looking to trim $89m from it’s operating budget. Actual cuts as reported, $5.5m. Civil Service suggestions to make up for this shortfall, excluding the 2 listed above, included increased duty on used cars, increasing of existing fees, introduction of duty on existing duty free items and the appropriation of dormant bank accounts. Maybe some impact on Civil servants from these measures, but really!

      You’re worried about Civil Servants morale? How about the morale of the private community, how about their sense that this budget was inequitable, unduly focused on the poorer elements of our workforce ( who are for the most part non-voting and therefore don’t count ) and that the Civil Service or at least the CICSA failed miserably to step up to the plate when the country needed them?

      There are good Civil Servants behind the scenes I’m sure, but you know what? Life is not fair, as the private sector just found out, so they will have to learn to suck it up with the rest of us. 

      Finally, I particularly love this from Mr. Watler’s letter: " … with the help of Almighty God who we must depend upon for wisdom, knowledge, understanding and strength to accomplish this task." There I was thinking that the reason we pay Civil Servants at all is for their wisdom, knowledge and understanding, but apparently these are qualities they are still waiting to get.




      • Anonymous says:

        Brilliant post, O’Really.

      • Fallen Angel says:

        I’d love to be a Civil Servant in Cayman Islands.  It’s like being semi-retired.  You go to work but don’t do anything but still paid for it. hahaha

        By the way, I’m on vacation so I have all the time to browse and waste and make my head spin faster than mercury reading all these funny jokes.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Civils Servants can do their bit by contributing directly to their pensions.

    Put in a full days work for a full days pay

    Answer their phones and return calls

    Not take their lunch breaks when they notice a room full of paying customers

    Remember the service in customer service

    Remember that we are ALL in this mess together and any selfish behaviour will be to their own detriment in the long run

    We are in a recession sacrifices are required


    • Anonymouse says:

      Actually, the civil service does pay their own pension contribution.

      Cutting civil service costs will not address the recession, nor government’s overbudgeting. The cut funds would just go into various political "slush funds" (whichever politician you hate).

      The civil service does have several problems, some of which you mentioned, but those two points are mistaken.

  7. been there tried that says:

    Anyone in their right mind that has had to get anything done through the civil service in the last 5 years could tell you that it was ,is, and always will be a HUGE waste of money. I could live with the bad attitudes and lazyness if they would just do their damn jobs.  The fact that there is never going to be any changes or cuts only underlines the fact that the current goverment can not and will not pull Cayman out of the hole its in even if a gun was put to their heads. The way Caymanians are represented by the people in Civil service has just fed the fact that Caymaians are lazy, rude,and out to give expats a hard time. James Watler can say anything he wants but he can not hide the truth!  The goverment should put all the many unemployables on wellfare and at least let some of the up and comeing young Caymanians try to erase all the bad blood by showing what they can do. Caymanian Leaders…Do NOTHING  Fix NOTHING.  Watch what happens to your loan money.  Watch where Cayman will be in another year. You can’t ask why or blame anyone else.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Watler, I do believe, has every fabric of his being behind the Civil Service.  I beleive we do have some hard workers, some deciated and honest personnel.  More focus should be on "smart"working, as oppossed to hard working.  let’s use a manual labouring job for example.  Let us task or goal set for each day.  If work starts at 7 and they finish at 2-well done-they are still paid for the day.  If it is not finished-no overtime will be offered and if objecting to this need to finish-replace the lazy/individual.


    i am Caymanian, I have been told by collgues over and ove"r, "don’t worry about anything, you Caymanian, they can’t fire you."


    i have bigger issues to worry about because as a ciil servent many of us has helped cause this financial disaster by our receiving pay for no work. 

    • Anonymous says:

      If your literacy is anything to go by, we know why the civil service is a mess.








      "many of us has helped"

      Alas, folks, these are the type of posters who make CNS appear to be the place where Caymanians complain they can’t get jobs. Of course they can’t if they write like this. Oops, this one has a job! A civil servent er servant.

    • Anonymous says:

      "…i am Caymanian, I have been told by collgues over and ove"r, "don’t worry about anything, you Caymanian, they can’t fire you."

      …"many of us has helped cause this financial disaster by our receiving pay for no work."

      So happy someone is actually telling the truth for a change! The problem though, is that it is not only in the civil service that there is this attitude…i know ofalot of businesses who has major problems getting SOME Caymanians to actually do anything…they rely on the fact that they are locals and protected…and that my friends is what is causing so many employers to be very weary of hiring locals…unless of course, and in most cases, they are forced to…so whenever you all can teach your children that they have to pull their own weight and work hard and not depend on this "right" just because they are locals, only then will you all can say with merit, "send home the @#$%^ expats!" 

  9. O'Really says:

    Read the words of this man carefully. He has absolutely nothing to say. I don’t believe for a minute that this guy has anything other than the well being of his members at heart. Do not be fooled, there will be  no meaningful changes unless they are imposed from outside and I think we have already seen that there is no political will to do this.  

  10. Joe Average says:

    Gadzooks.  What are these guys??  Ninja Warriors?

    Listen.  If only you did your job and didn’t take Friday afternoons off it would be ok with us.

  11. Sybill Survant says:

    Members we must do everything we can for the country AS LONG AS OUR NUMBERS, SALARIES AND PERKS, (the biggest drain on the nations finances) remain absolutely unaffected.

  12. Anonymous says:

    How ironic James Watler asks the civil servants to "do their bit" when he helped shoot down the 2% pay cut offered by the Chief Sec…

    • Anonymous says:

      What did you expect from poor old James? He’s not exactly Einstein. But he does genuinely believe that dreadful stuff he spouts-particularly the BS about hard working dedicated civil servants he’s always going on about. Some of them are but some of them are just wasted nights.

      BTW, what does he actually do in the Education Department?

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s a very good question, I wondered even the other day when he was taking trips to the Brac to rally Civil Servants there, who was paying for those work hours? certainly not CICSA.

        I think this Governmentment and the Cayman Islands is one of the few places where you can actually have the Union Boss take paid company time to rally the workers against the company and do so without consequences.

        I further think that it is only here that he would be allowed to use his employers resources (Government mass mailing service) to spread either religous teachings or fearmongering amongst the staff.

        I tell you one thing, if he worked for me, he woulda been fired so fast his head would spin.