Government’s proposal to pay public servants based on their performance has been placed under scrutiny, as political commentator Dr David Hinds said the deal might do more harm than good.
Hinds said Government instead of going that route, should pay every worker a living wage.
Government has proposed to the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) that a “differentiated approach” (performance-based salary increase) replace the across-the-board percentage increase usually paid to public servants.
“I think it is something worth thinking about. I think they are talking about paying the workers based on performance and I think there are some problems with that. I think all workers should be paid a living wage,” Hinds said.
The Arizona University professor said that he was very much sceptical about the proposal, which the GPSU said it was going to consider.
Government and the Public Service representative late last week entered into bilateral talks, and several proposals and considerations were made by both parties.
The performance-based proposal had sprung from a previous pronouncement made by President David Granger, driving home the message that lazy public servants would receive a lazy person’s pay.
But Hinds said this proposal was one that should be carefully considered by Government.
“If you’re talking about performance, then that should be on top of workers being paid a living wage. I’m very sceptical about the talk of performance, because people come to the workplace with different challenges. You will have the woman who is a single parent, who has five children to deal with in the morning before she comes to work. She comes to the workplace sometimes with tremendous pressure on her head that could affect her performance on the job and if you’re talking about paying her based on performance and not taking into consideration the social situation, I think you are running into a situation,” he explained.
He said while a salary increase based on performance was not in itself a bad thing, he still remained sceptical.
“One has to be careful that that approach does not lead to a hierarchy at the workplace that could in the long run defeat the purpose. Further, one has to be careful that it is not being used to discriminate against workers who may be at odds with management or too vocal at the workplace.”
He said attention should also be placed on the social circumstances of the individual workers, because workers came from different households and they brought to the workplace their different experiences.
“There are kinds of social factors that could influence workers’ performances. Workers from stable households may start with an advantage. The system of evaluation, therefore, has to be fair, just and transparent. Perhaps a compromise could be reached where the bulk of the salary increases are given across the board and the remainder is based on performance,” Dr Hinds stated.
He also said he was not negating the fact that there were workers who neglected their work, but that has to be addressed. “But I don’t think that we should lump all workers who do not perform.”
Day one of talks between the GPSU and Government on public servants’ wages and salaries for 2016 culminated with the Union agreeing to look at the State’s proposal to replace the across-the-board increase.
According to a joint statement issued last Wednesday, following discussions, the two parties entered into the agreement.
“GPSU agrees to explore the Government’s proposal for the differentiated approach to replace the across-the-board percentage increase,” the release stated.
The parties also agreed that the negotiations were conducted in the spirit and obligations of the Memorandum of Agreement between the GPSU and the Public Service Ministry now Department for the avoidance and settlement of disputes.