Compare your working conditions

A few weeks ago I wrote about the inequality that exists in St Lucia, but to really appreciate how good and beneficial this inequality can be, you have to be a high-ranking public official.
Just have a quick look at this selection of Staff Orders and compare your working conditions to those that public servants enjoy.
The provisions of these Orders shall apply to all public officers. But some are more equal than others.
Public officers shall be liable to disciplinary action in respect of a breach of any of these Orders. Yeah, sure, like being sent home with full pay!
An officer . . . may be required . . . to present himself  for examination by a duly constituted Medical Board with a view too ascertaining whether he is physically and mentally capable of performing the duties of his office.
Happens all the time – just joking!
No salary shall be paid to an officer in respect of any period during which he has been absent from duty without leave unless the appropriate Service Commission directs otherwise. Wrong! Happens every month, at least at Bordelais where 35% absenteeism without any pay deduction is the norm.
In the discharge of his duties, an officer shall be courteous and polite both to members of staff and the members of the public. Huh?
The normal hours of work of public officers are thirty-seven and one half hours in each week.
Seven-and-a-half hours a day; inclusive or exclusive of stepping out time. How many hours are you expected to work each day?
An officer may be required by his Permanent Secretary or Head of Department to work on any Public Holiday but in such cases the officer will, whenever possible be compensated by being given time off in lieu, unless he receives overtime for the duty.
At Bordelais they get compensation for overtime whether they work overtime or not; it’s part of their pay.
Officers who are regularly required by circumstances beyond their own control to work outside normal working hours, shall be paid overtime at the prescribed rates. Overtime shall not be payable to Teaching Staff, the Staff of Boys’ Industrial School, Nursing Staff, Police and Prison
Officers. But I just told you: prison officers get overtime compensation as part of their regular pay! And why shouldn’t teachers and nurses get overtime?
No officer shall absent himself from duty during working hours without the permission of the Permanent Secretary or Head of Department in which he works or such other officer as may be authorized to give such permission.
No wonder the bosses get so little done; they are snowed under with requests from their subordinates to step out! How else can one explain the unavailability of public servants when you need them most? Does anyone really believe that public servants get permission from the PS every time they step out? Do you get to disappear from your post at your job?
Officers shall be regular and punctual in their attendance. In each Government office an Attendance Register shall be kept in which each officer shall record daily the hour of his arrival at and departure from the office and sign the entry.
Ask to see it next time you pass by. A simple clocking in device, or fingerprint monitor that costs just a few dollars would suffice.
No officer, whether he is on duty or leave of absence, shall contribute to, whether anonymous or otherwise, or publish in newspaper, magazine or periodical or otherwise cause to be published in any manner, in Saint Lucia or elsewhere, anything which may be reasonably be regarded as of political or administrative nature; or speak in public or broadcast in any way. . . Remember the hullabaloo surrounding Mr Herman’s return to Bordelais?How far do you think you would get as an employee at Super J’s if  you criticized your boss in the newspapers?
No officer may seek to influence any member of the Parliament as a means of bringing his services to official notice especially in connection with appointments, leave, postings, transfers, discipline, promotions or any condition of service, or as a means of furthering his interest in the Government service in any way. The adoption of such methods will render him liable to disciplinary proceeding.
I’ll simply say I know what I know, and they know I know. Political favours? Like soup of the day.
Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments are authorized to grant leave to their staff Vacation Leave: up to a period not exceeding a total of absence of 24 working days in a year; Sick Leave On Full Pay up to 24 working days to officers working a six day week in any one year and up to 20 working days to offices working a five day week in any one year.
Try that in the private sector and you’ll be out of the door in a flash!
An officer who absents himself from his duties without leave being granted or who fails to resume duty on the expiry of the leave shall be regarded as absent without permission and shall not be entitled to salary during such absence. Happens all the time, and funnily enough there is often a willing lawyer to find a loophole.
The total period of sick leave which may be granted for absence not supported by a medical certificate shall not exceed 10 working days in a year (12 working days where an officer works a six day week) and any such absence in excess of that period shall be deemed earned leave.
Now I think we all agree that these 12 days—oh yes, they all work six days a week—are viewed as legitimate “holidays” by public servants, so they take them, sick or not.
An officer may be granted sick leave on full salary up to a maximum period of 124 working days (150 working days for officers who work a six day week) during any period of twelve months ending on the final day of sick leave granted to him.
You might like to read that one again: 150 working days = 30 weeks with full pay!
Thereafter, if necessary further extensions of sick leave may be granted, with half salary, subject to a maximum period of 248 working days (300 working days for officers who work a six day week) sick leave in all with full and half salary, combined.
Let me explain; after 30 weeks off with full pay,, they can then get another 30 weeks off with half pay. Isn’t that great? Imagine such benefits in the private sector!
An officer who has been on sick leave for a continuous period of three months, shall, unless specifically exempted on the advice of the Director of Health Services be required by the Permanent Secretary, Personnel to submit himself for an examination by a Medical Board appointed by the Director of Health Services.
Okay, so after three months, or about 90 days, the penny finally drops and the Public Service thinks it might just be a good idea to check the officer out – just in case he is malingering!
If an officer or his immediate family (which expression shall mean his wife and children who have not attained the age of 19 years, or who are under full time education) requires medical, dental or ophthalmic treatment which is not available in Saint Lucia or a change of climate for reasons of health, and has not sufficient private means to meet the necessary expenditure, he may be granted an advance from public funds without interest on furnishing adequate security to the satisfaction of the Director of Finance and     Planning.
You think I am inventing this, don’t you? I need a change of climate; lend me 100,000 interest free!
You work at LIME or Digicel? Just ask for 100,000 advance free of interest and pretend you are a public servant.
7.4 (1)
Officers who are designated travelling officers may be granted an advance for the purchase of a car.
Banks are so tiresome, don’t you think? Why bother the bank, when the ministry will lend you the money? You see where I am going with the uneven playing field?
Subject to the approval of the Training Committee, an advance may be made to an officer to enable him to pursue a course of study in Saint Lucia. In such a case, an advance may also be made to enable the officer to purchase necessary books.
Education is so important, isn’t it? For public servants, I mean. The rest of the country can scrape, beg and borrow from banks to give their children a good education.
Any applications for loans for any purpose which may be received from public officers should be regarded in the same light as applications for advances and dealt with in like manner and in accordance with the procedure laid down for dealing with applications for advances.
In other words: free of interest!
Whenever the transfer of an officer from one station to another involves the conveyance of the officer’s baggage including furniture and household effects, the Head of the Department should make a request to the Permanent Secretary, who will then arrange for the transportation of the officer’s baggage to his new station. If damage to baggage occurs during transit, such damage may be assessed and the value of the damage reimbursed to the officer concerned provided that no reimbursement will be made if the cause of damage is due to faulty packing. Where Government is unable to provide transportation, transportation expenses shall be provided to the officer for the transfer of his family and household effects.
So you live in Gros Islet, get transferred to Vieux Fort, and the government picks up all the expenses.
Of course, you might get a government apartment, and end up paying next to nothing. See below:
An officer occupying reduced rent quarters is required to pay half the assessed rental up to a maximum of 10% of his salary. The quarters will normally be unfurnished and if furniture is provided by the Government a furniture rental may be charged.
So if you live in a government apartment and earn 5,000 a month, the most you will have to pay in rent is 500. Not a bad deal!
The average St Lucian has to scrape pretty hard to afford uniforms and books for their kids. Sickness and absence from work can mean ruin for a family.
Interest rates levied by banks can make loans impossible to service. Advances from employers are almost unheard of. Being forced to uproot a family and seek work elsewhere is a catastrophe that eats up any additional income a new job might provide. Public Servants are protected from many of the trials of normal life; and there is nothing wrong in that. The evil is that not all society can enjoy the benefits of the already secure, protected, well-pensioned public servant. It is time for change.
Spread the wealth. Get rid of the malingerers.
Reward the workers.

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