Nov 29, 2021 Letters
Kaieteur News – According to Kaieteur News report of November 19, Dr. Ashni Singh, Finance Minister, during his announcement of an overall 7% increase on the current wages and salaries of public servants (and teachers), retroactive to January 1, 2021, commented on the existence of a number of ‘anomalies and disparities across positions within the public service scales. As a result of which there are marked inconsistencies across the pay received by persons holding similar qualifications but occupying different posts, depending on the agency in which they work, the post to which they are appointed and the salary scale in which their post is classified.’
The undersigned can testify to the fact that the Minister is absolutely right. One suspects however that reference is being made principally to what are described in the Budget as ‘Contracted Employees’ – an arrangement which allowed individual agencies to recruit employees at varying mutually agreed rates. This situation has obtained at least two decades.
At this juncture, it may be apposite to relate that the existing job structure of fourteen scales in the Public Service was established as far back as 1992, after a job evaluation exercise that lasted some ten months. The results produced the following Job Categories in the first instance (with 2021 numbers shown alongside):
Administrative – 3897
Senior Technical – 6456
Other Technical & Craft Skilled – 6828
Clerical & Office Support – 9284
Semi-skilled operatives and unskilled – 5738
Contracted Employees – 2834
After nearly three decades, no attempt has been made to undertake any formal comprehensive examination of the job structure even in the face of the technological changes and the progressively new specializations.
So that while the declared intention to address specific anomalies is most welcome, it at the same time provides opportunity to reflect on the feasibility of having a suitably qualified Task Force to conduct a more detailed analysis and make recommendations for reconstructing the current job categories, and of course updating the value of jobs. In the process it is humbly suggested that substantive examination could be made as to the viability of having so many ‘Contracted Employees’, albeit for indefinite periods of service. One implication is that many work at the same jobs as their permanent counterparts. So that in implementing the proposed salary adjustments complementary attention will obviously have to be given to the ‘permanents’ in the same or similar jobs.
At the risk of overburdening this submission, opportunity is respectfully taken to once again bring attention to the compensation plight in which Teachers have been embedded, ever since the 29 Grade Job and Salary Structure was established in the colonial days. The conditions of employment of these critical contributors to the foundation of the educational, social and economic wellbeing of our society deserve more focused attention. The most superficial appraisal of the current job structure will reveal the number of ‘Temporary’ job categories that obtain, albeit in a permanent structure. It is a remarkable conundrum being a ‘Temporary’ employee for life, and earning a pension nevertheless.
In the meantime the Maximum Grade is described as SPECIAL – to which there is no applicable salary scale. At the time of writing, the relevant position-holders are entitled to a fixed salary of $332,841 per month for the rest of their lives. This relates to Head Teachers of the recognised top institutions.
The case being made for Teachers could well apply to the Public Health Service. Perhaps one substantive difference between the Teaching profession and the rest of the Public Service is that they have to deliver the results so proudly acknowledged by officials and citizens throughout the Caribbean Region.
But, like all their colleague Public Servants, their performance is not measured by any formal appraisal system. As a result, absolutely nobody is heard to have earned increment/s within their assigned salary scale for the longest while.
One looks forward to Dr. Ashni Singh, as Finance Minister, leading the charge in resolving a truly exhaustive human resources issue.
In the meantime, one is forced to enquire about the viability of the Public Service Commission.
A copy of the Job Evaluation Report of 1992 is available here from.
Human Resources Management Executive (Retired)
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