BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Monday 29th March 2021)- Government Chief Personnel Officer, Sheridane Warner is being cited as informing the public servants holding bachelor’s degrees that their expectations to be paid for their certification will not be automatically granted by the state as an employer.
The revelation has been made in a government circular dated March 22, 2021 that is signed by CPO Warner and addressed to a number of senior managers in the public service.
The circular, which has found its way on social media, admonishes public servants holding bachelor’s degree but not yet working in a position that pays at a graduate level, that the public service will not automatically recognise their graduate status and pay them as graduates.
The CPO is seen stating that while the Human Resource Management Department congratulates the success of the workers, the degree earned is seen only as the “personal development” of the individual.
The communiqué shows Warner as articulating a government position of accommodating degreed public servants into positions as the only way to remunerate them for their certification and skill-sets. Warner would have written that “unless they (degreed public officers) can be accommodated in a position in a degree scale, they will not be compensated for the degree.”
The head of government human resource management is also seen as communicating to bachelor’s degree holders that it will be upon vacancies in graduate positions that they would be able to compete for the positions and the requisite pay, “since they already have the necessary qualifications”.
The Labour Spokesman spoke with a former permanent secretary and public service reform specialist who outlined that while the CPO is correct in her understanding of the rules, the circular was deficient in advising public servants of basic information. The specialist said that public servants needed to know that graduate level positions in the service start at pay scale K33 (or $4,495 per month). In the conversation, the irony was pointed out that there are public servants who have been appointed to ranks higher than pay scale K33, but do not have degrees.
“These are inequities in the system that need to be corrected,” the expert said while speaking on the absence of a comprehensive job analysis and assessment programme which has been needed for some time to give each position in the government a proper value. This our specialist said would allow public workers to be paid according to the value of their work as well as by their certification.
However, the public service expert said the service is not without options available to it that can assist these degreed workers until they are promoted to graduate scaled positions. In the conversation, the Spokesman learned that these workers can be paid a performance or responsibility allowance in the interim because often times these officers will be asked to perform additional roles “since they already have the necessary qualifications.”
The specialist further outlined that the portion of the communiqué which speaks to the CPO seeing the degree as personal development of the worker was “unartfully put”.
“The workers’ investment in educating themselves is just a start. It is for the Human Resource Management Department to properly manage the pool of enhanced resources that available to it. This is talent that is available to the public service that it can use to better deliver public goods to the people.”
The former public official wound up by addressing the CPO’s mention that it is upon vacancies in the service that public servants will be able to compete for positions with the observation that there has been no publication of vacancies in the public service for some time.
It was pointed out that the absence of such opportunities leaves public servants unaware and they get passed over. The understanding is that in a competitive position, as mentioned in the communiqué, the government would invite applications from public servants who are interested advertised positions and that all government promotions and hiring would be based on merit.
“While the CPO said what the policies say, in principle, public servants do not get to benefit from those provisions in reality”, the expert cautioned while speaking of “the ongoing interference of politicians who disregard the power of the public service and negatively affect its ability to operate effectively.”
This publication,which is owned by workers’ representation organization The St.Kitts- Nevis Trades and Labour Union, advises public servants and all workers in general to become more active in knowing their work place rights and responsibilities. Workers are encouraged to use every opportunity they have to engage your employer through the human resource office for more information on their rights.