Public servants are persons who choose to use their expertise to serve their nation. However, the unfortunate and glaring reality is it seems as if “public servants” are viewed as slaves by other public servants who hold higher offices.
Currently, there is a situation brewing within sections of the Ministry of Public Security (MOPS) and the Public Service Ministry (PSM) with respect to annual leave allowances.
Members of staff who have been employed by the MOPS on a contractual basis have been transitioned to the Pensionable Establishment. In other words, they are now “permanent staff”. This in itself is not an issue.
The problem is that the PSM and MOPS have decided that these employees will now be treated as new members of staff. This implies that ALL Staff members will now be required to undergo a 1-year probationary period during which they will not be eligible for annual leave.
How does this make sense? Have all of the work done, skills gained and commitment shown during their previous years of service been erased? When contacted, the Principle Personnel Officer and Permanent Secretary divulged that, “PSM is going by the book now!”
This tale gets even more ridiculous. Consider this: if Ryan’s one year contract ends on 20th April, 2017 and he becomes a “permanent” staff member on 1st May 2017, a reasonable person would expect that after 12 months of service, in May 2018, Ryan would be eligible for leave. Makes sense does it not? However, members of staff have been informed that this is not the case.
Ryan would become eligible for leave from January 2019. How? Apparently, annual leave is only granted after the completion a “calendar year” (January 1st – December 31st) of service. So, unfortunately, Ryan would be eligible for leave after serving in the proverbial coalmines for nearly two years (22 months)! If this is not the equivalence of modern day slavery, I don’t know what is.
Are the people reading and interpreting “the book” not human beings? Do they not possess the intelligence, common sense and emotions that should be used to guide their interpretation and implementation of the rules of the book?
What do we do when the book does not make sense and when it impacts negatively on the mental, emotional and even physical well being of employees? What do we do when the book is so rigid that it does not take into consideration the basic needs of a human being – for rest, recuperation and rejuvenation?
Where is the consideration for the impact of work on family life and the psycho-social well being of staff? It is not rocket science – people give their best when their needs for rest are prioritised. Government organisations cannot expect the best from employees if they are treated this way. Are (Permanent Secretaries) PS’s being subject to these rules; are Directors and Managers? To paraphrase a colleague, PSM’s rule book needs to be burned, since most of it was written before the majority of the current Guyanese population was born.
If attempts at dialogue and intellectual conversations about this critical issue keep falling on deaf ears, public servants will be forced to explore other avenues to have their concerns considered. The rule book should serve the people, not the other way around.