COLA cut best of limited choice, says Association

| 21/08/2012

rock-and-hard-place.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands Civil Service Association says that of all the options presented to its membership to help with budget savings, the 3.2% cost of living allowance (COLA) cut was the best choice. Recognizing the financial challenges facing the nation, CICSA President James Watler said he hoped that the country would remember the sacrifices made by public servants as he pointed out how difficult this cut would be for low earners who are already suffering from overtime cuts. “At the individual level many civil servants and their families face deep challenges and that most live from pay-cheque to pay-cheque,” President James Watler said Tuesday in the wake of the pay cut.

“Civil servants have endured in the face of cutbacks in overtime, pay freezes, reductions in other benefits, longer working hours and increased expectations to deliver more with less than is required to do the job,” the association boss wrote in a message to the wider membership.

He said CICSA accepted the rollback of the 3.2% COLA with a heavy heart as it was deemed the most equitable and productive option for trimming direct civil service expenditure for this financial year.

“CICSA has always expressed concern for the plight of our lowest wage earners who are often disproportionally impacted by expenditure cutting measures. It is with this in mind that we view the rollback of COLA as being potentially less painful for this particularly vulnerable group of civil servants to bear than other, flat-fee, options that were suggested,” Watler said, adding that the association had advocated that the savings from the 3.2% COLA cut would be earmarked for the public service pension liability.

“We know that this is a major national debt being borne by all of us as citizens,” the president acknowledged. “We take consolation in knowing that our sacrifice will go towards ensuring hard working civil servants can receive a pension and that we are directly contributing towards relief of a major source of national debt.”

Throughout the debate on the current budget crisis the CS had endured calls for salary and benefit cuts and some pundits had suggested cutting the head count by as much as 1,000 workers, Watler noted.

“We have heard weak justifications for these cuts based on the usual arguments that civil servants contribute nothing to their pensions and that health care is free. For too long the facts have been ignored that we do pay our portion of pensions and pay out of pocket for eye care, dental and other medical exclusions as in any insurance policy,” he stated.

Watler said the association was concerned about the initial proposals regarding pension contributions, and while these may have initially focused on contracted workers, they could easily have migrated to all civil servants. 

“After conducting extensive research we were able to present a robust case for a reassessment of this proposal. We anticipate an important announcement on pensions will be coming in the near future, which we hope will set the record straight and improve the national understanding of civil servants’ contributions to their pension,” the presidentadded.

The association had also been urged by the membership to resist attempts to change health insurance coverage for civil servants without the choice of health care provider being placed on the table.

“Despite the lack of rationality in the public debate on this issue, even our strongest detractors must agree that our position is based on one of fundamental fairness," Watler said, and pledged that while the discussions are certain to continue, the association would strongly advocate on behalf of the members that choice must be introduced if they are to pay for health insurance.

With the pension and healthcare benefits preserved across the service, Watler noted that it was inevitable that payroll would be the alternative target.

“We trust that our sacrifices will be remembered, not only when it’s convenient but also in these times when everyone is joining hands and hearts together to rebuild this economy, to re-shape our public finances and to restore confidence in our nation. We trust that our efforts to date have demonstrated our value as a partner in this national process and we hope that we will continue to be afforded opportunities to have our voice heard and to contribute to the dialogue,” he said, adding that the civil service has delivered in times of great challenge and crisis before and would do so again.

See full message below from CICSA President.

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Category: Politics

Comments (55)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Where is the Caymanians-Expats United to protest about this? Exactly, typical of the expat community no direct impact on them so no need to help out the low paying Caymanians that would be effected by this 3.2% cut.

    • SSM345 says:

      Evidently  you missed the presentation and band aid budget whereby the cost of living is set to rise across the board once again.

      Blame the Premier, our bloated civil service and the idiots who cannot see  past their fridges for putting us here.

      A Caymanian.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just like the ex pat tax, no one under 36,000 a year should have been affected. This should now show all true caymanians that this little rock is no longer for them, and to make matters worst it is their own that has made thisdecision.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well our civil servants were bright enough to work out it was better to lose their COLA rather than have to pay for medical insurance premiums (leaving aside pension contributions for the moment) like everybody else in the real world. Not only do they not pay premiums, they do not have to make co-payments of 20% of their claims, they do not lose another $500pa. on their claims for annual deductible, and they have absolutely no ceiling on total claims whether annual or lifetime.

       What is even more frustrating to the private sector health claimant is that he often has to make a co-payment of 30% or more due to the customary incompetence of our civil servants.The insurance companies who have increased their premiums by 30% or more over the last 10 years, still restrict what they pay out to the limits set out in the Government Legislated Fee Schedule which is based on costs that were extant 10 years ago. Government has continuously promised to revise the schedule to bring it in line with current costs, but so far nothing has been done. Hardly surprising as those responsible are not affected!.

       Government has yet to quantify how much they spend on medical expenses for the 5-6,000 civil servants plus all their spouses, plus all their dependent children.It must run into tens of million of dollars annually. This should be immediately terminated by having the public sector pay their own way and thereby transferring all liability to the insurance companies.

     

       

  4. The Thinker says:

    What I would like to see is a list of the top ten Civil Service people's salaries, benefits and allowances.  I've heard they are unbelievable.  How about it….?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The CS living paycheck to paycheck are not the problem.  It's the senior guys that get paid the big bucks to mismanage the government that need to go.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I see most of the hardworking CS staff are finding time to trawl through CNS today

  7. Anonymous says:

    Does the President of the CICSA live on the same planet as the rest of us?

  8. Anonymous says:

    don't know about the rest of the private sector but I certainly did not get a 3.3% cost of living increase, be it 2010 or 2011. Further, if we truely have 8,000 persons collecting social service, that would mean some of those have jobs, likely in Gov't, so they are also double dipping. Dem need to learn to live within dem means!!! Social Services needs to do better screening.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually Wed, 08/22/2012 – 09:04 what the Social Service department needs to do is stop giving hand-outs to the many people from other countries! Some of whom are here as Permanent Residents,cannot maintain themselves and need to return home!  The fact is that if they cannot maintain themselves then their PR should be revoked, according to the legal requirements of the Immigration Law. They also need to assess how many Caymanians genuinely need assistance.   

  9. Anonymous says:

    What percentage of Civil Servants does the CICSA represent? I believe less than half. Also, what they agree to is not binding on non-CICSA members. So i guess all non-CICSA members are still getting their 3.2 precent COLA – hahahahahahaha

    • Anonymous says:
       
       
  10. Anonymous says:

    5000 civil servants  X  maybe an average income of 3000  X  3.2%means 5,760,000

    That is almost 6 million.    WHERE DID I HEAR THIS NUMBER BEFORE ?

    THIS is how business is done.

     

  11. Anonymous says:

    "President James Watler said he hoped that the country would remember the sacrifices made by public servants as he pointed out how difficult this cut would be".  How deluisonal.  We will not forget how hard you fought to stop necessary job cuts taking place.  That is all we will remember.

    • Anonymous says:

      I'll just be remembering the difficult sacrifices; pay, bonus and cost of living allowance cuts; redundancies and closures that private sector has had to endure for the last few years,in turn enabling the government to continue to plunder all our money funding an overbloated government and its liabilities rather than doing the right thing.  I'll be remembering my numerous friends, both Caymanian and expat who are no longer working and who are now suffering, trying to feed and clothe their families, and trying to make ends meet paying their rent and utilities with no pay coming in.  I'll be thinking of all the further people who are going to go through the same injustice due to the reckless refusal of the current administration to adhere to the recommendations of the Miller Shaw report.  

      • Anonymous says:

        "I'll just be remembering the difficult sacrifices; pay, bonus and cost of living allowance cuts; redundancies and closures that private sector has had to endure for the last few years"

         

        Are these the same private sector employees that i see driving Range Rover, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche vehicles to work everyday? Living in half-million dollar and up homes? Even 30-year old secretaries driving Mercedes to work.My my, how hard they really have it…

        • Anonymous says:

          That's Cayman for you all those people working hard late nights getting high salaries while those doing nothing barely scrape CI50,000 a year – someone, puh-leeeese stop the madness!

        • Anonymous says:

          Can we stop the stereotyping please.

          Unemployment is reportedly at 10%, therefore most private sector employees are still working and may have nice cars. So what!

          If a 30 year old secretary is driving a benz, maybe she has a wealthy husband or father. So what!

          Many Civil Servants have nice cars too. So what!

          Some private sector employees are out of work, not necessarily because they don't or can't work hard,but because their jobs disappeared due to the recession. This is especially true of construction workers. These are not likely to be the same ones that still have the nice cars.

          Some Civil Servants ought to be let go because they aren't among those that work hard. But the Civil Service currently appears to lack the management capability of downsizing to suit changed circumstances. People that don't work hard appear to face few consequences whereas all, including those that work hard, have to take the pay cut. Both of these effects are unfair.

          If the Civil Servant managers enforced a better work ethic within their departments, all the time, not just during a recession. The Civil Service would be more productive, i.e. get more done with less people, and those that work hard would not have had to take the pay cut.

          Therefore, it is in every hard working Civil Servant's best interest to insist on a satisfactory  level of productivity from their peers, and to assist their management in the eradication of the few that shirk their work. giving them all a bad reputation.

          If their Managers won't deal with these problems, then senior managers should get new managers.

          At some point in this cycle, reality would quickly set in and theCivil Service would realize a sudden boost in productivity, a return of their self esteem, and their reputation would be repaired with the private sector. The deficit would disappear, almost as an afterthought.

          So, its up to you Civil Servant managers and senior managers. Start doing the hard part of your job by refusing to allow those few who give the service a bad name to continue with their poor performance. Do your homework according to the rules but get rid of them. They are holding you all back.

          • Anonymous says:

            I am not a civil servant but I am so darned sick and tired of you people jumping on here and on every media outlet possible downcrying the civil service and accusing them of not working hard! The civil service is like every other organisation, some hard workers and a few slackers but to stereotype and suggest that the majority of civil servants do not pull their weight is wrong and unjust. I agree that the nonperformers need to be weeded out but that is true of the private sector too. If both government and the private sector managed their human resource capital properly then many well qualified Caymanians would obtain the solid employment they deserve.

      • Anonymous says:

        The good thing is that the expats who are no longer working have an option, they can go back home! Caymanians are stuck.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sacrifice made by the Civil Service, you have got to be joking!

    3.2% cost ofliving increase is nothing when you consider all the other perks the CS are ripping off our country and the gravy train must stop for it is totally unsustainable. Mr. Watler is living in La La Land along with all his followers. We have roughly 1 civil servant for every 9 residents in our country and roughly 11% of our population are civil servants. At this percentage and with the perks and benefits they receive, it is totally unsustainable for our economy to support. If Mr. Watler, the CS and our politicians do not wake up, Cayman will be headed down the same road as Greece. Simply put for the CS to understand, all civil servant should be on private sector wage levels and private sector conditions and benefits if you are truely interested in contributing to our economic survival. The CS is killing the goose that layed the golden egg and we will all pay for our country's demise if they the CS donot wake up and smell the coffee!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I  would say trim from the top of the civil service…..Not the workers at the bottom of the

    scale.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Good advice. Since the CS is made up of all chiefs and no Indians, cutting from the top should surely solve the problem.

  14. Anonymous says:

    while i agree cs should have a choice of providers, i think the problem is that the HSA will then lose their largest source of revenue as the cs will opt to use different providers.
    it is a complex problem as the cs essentially supports the hsa.
    this “catch 22”. will not be solved by simply charging a premium to cs. they will gladly pay to have freedom of choice….
    the real problem is the deliveryy of care system and the outtdated unsustainable existence of cinico as it currently exists. A complete overhaul of both health care delivery and insurace law will be complex, however it will pay substantial dividends….

  15. Anonymous says:

    We do not pay for pensions because that is what our contract gives us. The public sector needs to shut up about this and get over it. The majority of civil servants are not making large salaries and the pension contributions make up for this and is part of their remuneration package. It ain’t going to change because it is a contractual issue. What needs to happen and should have happened 10 years ago is that this perk should not be offered to new civil servants the same with health benefits these should and could be reduced for new civil servants. While this may not resolve the current fiscal problems it will certainly help for the future.

    • Anonymous says:

      The new civil servant shouldn't get the benefits that the existing ones do?  For doing the same work? Two thoughts.  First, in what universe is that fair? Second,  doesnt that logic mean you can cut cost just by laying off the old and replacing with the new?  Hey – you could even rehire exactly the same people, but they would now be "new".  

      That wouldnt be fair either but hey, it would be cheaper, and the government hs already demonstrated with the NRA that it thinks it perfectly acceptable to fire people on the basis of redundancy and immediately replace them with someone else.

    • Anon says:

      Have you ever looked at your pay slip? It clearly lists your contribution to your pension. We just don't ever use the "gross" salary for job advertisements, job descriptions, salary scale, etc, we always refer to what is technically our "net" salary.

  16. Uncivil Servant says:

    They may take our COLA, but they’ll never take our GasBoy!
    Time for a top up.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I feel sorry for Mr James Watler having to struggle with this stuff. XXXX his truly worrying and totally false comment: "For too long the facts have been ignored that we do pay our portion of pensions…". The rest of the stuff about so called 'exclusions" civil servants have to pay is downright embarrassing coming from the head of the civil service association and an affront to those of us in the private sector who have to pay deductibles/co-payments . Mr Watler, no matter how you may wish to spin it, civil servants do NOT, repeat NOT, and one more time NOT contribute to their pension scheme out of their take home pay and you must know this because you were around when Government introduced this wheeze in the 1980s by which it looked like on their payslips civil servants were contributing to their pension, even although they were not, it was being done on their behalf by Government……..i.e. a non contributory pension scheme. What is even more troubling is that Mr Watler seems to be saying the Miller-Shaw Report on civil servant benefits as they relate to pensions is wrong although the prime local consultant on this report was the Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson and his Ministry of Finance gurus – all very senior civil servants.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are the sorry one 08/12/2012 – 20:40. You continue to spurt lies that the Hansards of the LA clearly refute. Get a life, research the facts, walk with your Bible and speak the truth.

      • Anonymous says:

        Utter nonsense, 22:11. Print the Hansard words you refer to or give us a link. Otherwise you know very well no one is going to go digging around in all those tedious Hansards looking for something and it's safe for you to claim it's in there.

    • Anonymous says:

      HSA workers contribute 6% to their pension fund Thank you

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes 22;29 but they are not CIVIL servants they are PUBLIC servants.

    • Anonymous says:

      You wont get much support from the civil service for a post like that 20:40 but you are quite correct of course. They get paid into their bank accounts exactly what the point on the payscale they are on says they should get with nothing taken out of what is called elsewhere "take home pay" for either pension or healthcare. Mr Watler should not be trying to perpetrate this notion that they do contribute.

    • Anonymous says:
       
       
      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry Bobo, it's only you and a few others who can't seem to see that civil servants DO NOT contribute to their pension scheme.

  18. Knot S Smart says:

    CNS – you have a real sense of humor with that pic for this story…

     

  19. Anonymous says:

    And may I ask how much of a cut in Salaries the MLAs are taking?

    • Anonymous says:

      MLAs taking a pay cut? Believe me, those clowns'll be the very, very last in line to sign up to that one! What a despicable bunch of individuals they truly are.

    • Anonymous says:

      The more things change the more they remain the same. 

    • Anonymous says:

      19:37, the sounds of pigs at the trough suggest that they will not be taking any cut in salary any time soon. There is also a strong rumour going around that a statutory authority recently awarded itself a big pay increase. Any details anyone?

    • anonymous says:

      I do not know how much of a cut they will take . But I do know when.  When pigs fly!!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Why were you even given a choice?  You should have to contribute to your pension and health like the rest of us.  And people say we don't have unions here… you lot have been running a racket for decades that needs to end.

    • Anonymouse says:

      So you don't think that workers should be allowed to organise and try to get the best deal that they can from their employer? You'd prefere if employees just took what you kindly gave them and said 'thanks massa'?

  21. Anonymous says:

    It was my thought that the Govt. announcing a little over six months ago that the 3.2% COLA was being re-instated (as of Dec 2011) was pre-mature at least and likely pandering for votes/support by us Civil Servants.

    Yes i'm a CS and make $4000 per month. I saw and heeded the effects of the economic crisis from 2009, anddecided to not bury my head in the sand like many of my colleagues,by downsizing my personal affairs/expenses.

    The unfortunate pieces of this eqation are that because of the continued rhetoric from the Govt. about "surpluses" many middle/lower paid persons felt "comfortable" with their heads buried in the sand, along with significant numbers  at the top (many double dipping…in one way or another) and they will not feel this at all. Unlike the many making less than $3000 per month.

    And as for "pensions" receiving this 3.2%…godd luch with that! As it (the pensions) are grossly underfunded and not nearly enough for anyone hired after 2000 to "retire" on with any dignity.

    • Anonymous says:

      It does not matter if the pension fund is under funded, the Constitutions provides for that, if no fund or insufficient fund has been made, then public service pensions to be paid from general revenue…see section 110(5):

       

      (5) Where any sum is required for the payment of an award and no, or
      insufficient, provision has been made for it under a law made by the Legislature,
      that sum shall be charged on and paid out of the revenues of the Cayman Islands.
      • Anonymous says:

        Um, and given that the country already has insufficient revenues to pay their existing bills, where do you think the money in the "revenue" is going to come from if the government continue to throw money down the drain and borrow/spend more than they can afford to pay back?  

        Oh but of course, we'll just keep hiking up the fees of all those rich people doing business here eh?  That should do the trick – not!

      • Anonymous says:

        Laws can be changed. Which is what will happen when revenues are not sufficient.

        See Greece, Spain, USA to name a few places where peoples retirement benifits have been drastically reduced from what was promised.

        The poster is clearly concerned that Cayman is on a very similar track.

        • Anonymous says:

          Read the provision in the Constitution, ie whole of Section 110- you can change the law for the future public servants, but the pension law in force at the time a person becomes a civil servant is the law that applies to them. And I agree that you cannot get blood out of a stone, ie there has to be revenue there, but the point is that whatever theposition each pensioner will be due what the law at the time they first became a cs said they were due…and that means that even if gov cannot pay it will show as a liability in the books. BTW It is not too difficult to change a law, but amending a Constitution is much more difficult….

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why is lie that civil servants do not pay towards their pensions not exposed? Why must we wait for a statement on this. The Hansards of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly bears the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Watler why don't you clear this up once and for all.  I am not a civil servant but I do remember in the past, hearing that at one time the government gave a raise to civil servants of 10% and at the same time took back 5% for pension and they have been taking the pension ever since.

        Surely it must be written somewhere.  Why battle with these people day after day about civil servants not paying pension.  Some of these people in private sector are going on as if they all work eight hours a day, and put in a full day's work.  Give me a break!!   i have worked with them for years and they are no difference. They slack of, spend hours chatting, swindle, cheat, lie, steal, conieve all the time, they are just more sophisticated  about it. They also fail to realise that they could not run their banks , trust companies, legal offices, accounting offices etc. with out the civil servants.  Civil servants are no different, some work very hard long hours and some do not.  In every office it is the same.

      • Anonymous says:

        The difference being that in the private sector shareholders bear the cost of that inefficiency and have the ability to do something about it, whereas in the public sector the taxpayer just gets the bill , and in a significant proportion (corporations paying tax, non Caymanians) gets absolutely no say in how the tax revenue is spent.

        Put it another way, as an employer if I catch staff members goofing off I can fire them.  If a CS goofs off I have no way of stopping it despite the fact I pay their salary.

         

        • Anonymous says:
           
           
        • Anonymous says:

          Don't forget that all private companies also have shareholders.  Do they not bear the cost when private companies employees goof off.  And yes they goof and nothing is done about it, of course that depends on who they are.  I know  so please don't patronize me.  I  have worked with them all my working life.  All I am saying is that all thething wrong with civil servants is also wrong with private service workers and much more and you should all remember that civil servants facilitate the "smooth running" of your private organisations.  Stop bashing the civil service and pay attention to your job. I am sure you and your institution are not blameless.