Friday, October 29, 2010


It is difficult to understand what is going on between the Government and the Public Service Association with regard to the salary negotiations for public servants. Oh! It is fairly easy to understand the P.S.A.'s President, Mr. Watson Duke. His is the classic trade unionist's position: "We want more money". And there is nothing basically wrong with this approach ... at least as an opening gambit. But unfortunately things don't always work like that and a big problem right now for the Government is finding the necessary funds to meet all of its obligations including, but not limited to increased salaries for the public servants.

The present dispute is not, and should not be about whether or not the public servants deserve an increase. By and large they do. There are a few who don't deserve even the salary that they are getting at present ... but they are (thankfully) not anywhere near a majority, and it is unfair to effectively punish the majority of hardworking and deserving public servants because of an inefficient minority.

No. The real issue is whether we (the country) can afford any increase at all ... and if so, what is the size of the increase that we can afford. Now, it ought to be of great benefit to both sides of this issue to have as the present Minister of Labour a man whose trade union credentials are impeccable and therefore whose word ought to be trusted by Mr. Duke et al. But the Minister has been conspicuous in his silence on the issue and the question has to be asked: Why?

I can only think of two reasons why the Minister might want to keep quiet and not intervene now:
1) He is completely incompepent and does not understand his proper role and his duty to
the country; or
2) He simply does not trust his Ministerial colleague, the Finance Minister, and is not
personally convinced that the figures that are being presented by the Government (his
Government) are true and correct.

I am ready, willing and able to accept that there may be another reason (or even 10 more reasons) but I really can't think of any.

Now, speaking for myself and myself alone, I find it hard to believe that Mr. McLeod is an incompetent person. So, if he is not incompetent then his unwillingness to intervene must be (unless there is some other reason which I can't think of) because he doesn't trust his Government's figures and is unwilling to put his credibility on the line for his Ministerial colleague. Because, if he did trust his colleague and his Government he could and should call Mr. Duke and say something like "Hear what Watson. We just don't have the money to pay all yuh." And he could and should then lend his name and his prestige to finding a solution to the present imbroglio instead of leaving the Chief Personnel Officer to twist and turn in the wind. He has the pretige and the clout and the credibility to bring both the P.S.A. and the Government into line.

But he is not doing that at all! The closest he has come to commenting on this most serious dispute is to support David Abdullah marching with the P.S.A. ! What does that tell you?

The only test of leadership is to lead, and to lead vigourously. The Minister of labour has to "get off the pot" and lead the parties out of a dispute that could have serious adverse consquences for this country. And he has to do it now!

No comments:

Post a Comment