Contracts on hold

While discussions and consultations with relevant stakeholders have been carried out in preparation for all Directors to be placed on contract, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Martin Mahe has met with the Prime Minister and returned to explain to the Directors yesterday, that it won’t happen until the Public Service Act is amended to cater for the change.

The Chairman apologises for the delay but adds, “With the letters you receive today (yesterday), the (salary) increase (that you are paid) is big so I expect you to deliver in line with the policies of the Government in the way you carry out your duties”.

Since before Christmas until the PSC Team met the Prime Minister two days ago, the Chairman describes the meeting with the Prime Minister as instigated by misunderstanding of the intended direction that the PSC wishes to take.

In the first place he says the Directors were well aware that the PSC wanted to place everyone on contract.

“However after the consultations, it has become obvious that it won’t be possible because the (Public Service) Act does not allow it to happen until the necessary legal provisions are in place to accommodate the idea to move forward with the process,” the Chairman explains.

“As such the Commission has agreed to wait until the relevant amendment to the Act is passed by parliament to cater for Directors, Towns Clerks, Secretaries of Commissions, Commissioner of Labour, and Chief Information Officer of Government.”

He explains that the interpretation the PSC has regarding the determination of GRT is that in part it says since it involves a significant increase in the salaries of Directors close the market range, it asks that the positions be re-advertised.

“This is where the Commission is of the view that once we endorse GRT then this also includes that recommendation.”

But the Chairman says if it is carried through with re-advertisement, it is going to be far too costly including settling of severance and all other entitlements.

“What I have come to understand from the Prime Minister’s Office is that the PSC wants to finish you off but let be clear here that the phrase ‘finish you off’ means you are terminated.

“But it is not the intention of the Commission to ‘finish you off’ but to re-advertise (the positions) for the most eligible candidates who are mostly you yourselves to reapply for your positions,” he assures his audience.

To quash any fears of being replaced by new applicants, the Chairman assures the Directors not to fear saying the PSC cannot take on board raw comers with no qualifications to deal with big policies that the Government is implementing through the Directors who are the drivers of the Departments under their care.

In terms of finance, the Chairman says what the PSC understood at the time was that on December 31, 2017, all severance and other benefits would be settled in line with his email to everyone involved.

“But it reached a level where the Honourable Prime Minister intervened by advising the PSC that it is in charge of the human resource (side of Public Service) while the Government is in charge of the budget.

“This is why we have to agree to more discussions on the issue,” the Chairman says.

“In addition, another advice is that if we pay our Directors with GRT, it is going to be more costly than what we are rolling out on January 1.

“It was for this reason that the PSC insisted that severance was cleared on December 31, 2017.

“While we wait for the Act to be passed by parliament then we can settle the difference between January 1, 2018 until parliament rectifies the Act to change the status of Directors and other senior public servants in charge of respective Departments.”

The Chairman says he is well aware of the commitments of the Directors who prepared all the necessary documents for their entitlements to be settled before December 31 of 2017.

The Chairman says initially it was an agreement between employer and employees and both parties agreed to move forward with it.

However the intervention of the Office of the Prime Minister and State Law now means PSC has to review its decisions.

“In line with our agreement in good faith for your entitlements to be settled before December 31st 2017, as Chairman of PSC, I wish to apologise to you all because when the Commission made its decision, it did so in good faith,” Martin Mahe concludes.

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