PSU slams GoB’s selective salary increase

BELIZE CITY, Mon. February 14, 2022– In a letter dated February 4, written to the Prime Minister, Hon. John Briceño, President of the Public Service Union (PSU), Dean Flowers, has opposed a proposal to adjust the pay scale for legal professionals in the public service, which he says will result in a 17% increase in the salaries of those working in these offices. The Attorney General, the Hon. Magali Marin-Young, has publicly stated that what is on offer is actually a 7% pay rise for Crown prosecutors working in government service, a raise she says was approved under the Barrow administration and is due to them.

The PSU, in its letter to the Prime Minister, however, called the bid “inadmissible” and remarked that it would be shameful for these lawyers and the office of the Ministry of Finance to support such an increase. The PSU stressed that these lawyers are “no more special” – no more technically competent or diligent in carrying out their duties – than the professionals who work in other public sector departments, and yet it noted that these Legal officials already enjoy higher salaries than their colleagues.

“I want to say that we have respect for these officers, because they are public officers like us. But I want us to talk without any excuses. They are no more special than other technical experts in different areas that we have in the public service: absolutely no different, and absolutely no more special than any other expert in the public service. And so, we felt compelled to state to the Prime Minister that we will not tolerate this anomaly or this additional anomaly being exposed, because the officers of the legal services, such as they are, have better compensation, at the detriment of other public officers, and other expert officers and technical officers in the public service,” Flowers said.

He said the union had registered its “greatest disgust and objection to any consideration” of such a proposal from the Solicitor General. He further noted a widening gap between the salary scale enjoyed by statutory members of the civil service and other highly qualified technical experts within the civil service, and underlined the discriminatory nature of any further salary increases. which would benefit only one category of civil servants. .

“In no way, shape or form, do I disparage legal services officers, because that’s something that I believe – and I also want to call them out, I don’t fight with them – in that they should have said on the ground. Gen., this is inadmissible, this is madness, this is nonsense, this is selfishness, this is being very self-centered. We cannot in good conscience support your proposal for a 17% raise for us, while our brothers and sisters, who may have spent more than us and who work harder than us, continue to be subjected at a 10% reduction when you are proposing that we get a 17% increase when we are already better paid than most public officials in the system, including technically qualified officials,” he said. declared.

He claimed that in addition to the proposal, a bid was made to purchase a van to transport legal services officers to work while other public officers are required to use their own mode of transport, and he estimated the price of this van to be in the $90,000 range.

“We were made to understand that legal services officers receive many allowances, including a housing and transport allowance. Is it then, in this submission, that it was proposed that it be withdrawn from them? The audacity of the leadership of the Ministry of the Solicitor General is mind-boggling, it is truly mind-boggling, and it must be condemned and denounced,” Flowers said.

He noted that the proposed pay scale for legal services officers “blews the civil service pay scale out of the water”, and called it disgraceful, but added that the Solicitor General’s office has may have skipped an important step which, according to him, is necessary in such a process of adjustment of the salary grid: consultation with the Ministry of Public Service and the PSU.

“It has also come to our attention that they are submitting or are about to submit their own regulations for consideration. They do not want to be governed by the Civil Service Regulations, as if they were not civil servants. Now these are supposed to be legal and sane people, and it never seems to have occurred to them that once you are a public officer you must be governed by the Standing Orders public. On top of that – unless of course you belong to the judiciary or the security forces – but on top of that, the lack of respect emanating from this office towards the Ministry of Public Service and the Public Service Union , because the regulations that govern the Solicitor General and everyone below her are clear – that where job classification, grievances, pay and allowances and terms and conditions of employment, it must be done jointly, between the Ministry of Public Service and the Public Service Union. It is the recognized representative of public officers.

The Joint Union Negations Team (JUNT), made up of unions representing the country’s various civil servants, is due to meet on February 16 with government officials to continue discussing the data presented by GoB officials on the current budget situation of the country and whether it is possible to quickly end the 10% wage cut for these workers. The PSU president, however, pointed out that the government does not have a budgetary strategy or a roadmap; and compared their spending to that of drunken sailors, pointing out that they have no benchmarks for determining an appropriate time to seek the restoration of full salaries for civil servants.

“When you’re dealing with a government, and a government – red or blue – that doesn’t have a fiscal strategy statement or a strategic direction in which it wants to grow the economy, it’s hard for us to to have a new perspective in terms of…or a benchmark, in terms of where we want to be, or where we really want to go. What is the meaning of budgeting? Every year you pass an appropriation bill, every March or April of every year. And then you come back, and you ask for more, and you ask for more, and you ask for more. But, you fail to identify where the revenue will come from to offset the demand more spending. Governments as a whole, the PUDP, can be classified as drunken sailors, spending like drunken sailors, the people’s money. They have no plan,” Flowers said.

Regarding the current state of mind of many civil servants, Flowers said: “Some civil servants think they have no reason to be afraid anymore. And so, it will be interesting to see what the end result of this meeting of the 16th would be, because, guided by the sentiments being expressed across this country, 2022 could very well be a year of judgment for political parties that have violated and plundered our resources, and who enriched themselves, as well as their families and their political cronies. This could very well be a year of judgment and we all need to be alert, prepared and ready for anything. So we will know what will happen next.

According to local reports, the Hon. Marin-Young said what is on offer is a 7% pay rise (instead of 17%) for civil service legal professionals which was approved by the Barrow administration between 2014 and 2017 but did not has ever been applied to their salaries. She said GoB’s current efforts are simply aimed at correcting the problem for Crown prosecutors. PSU Chairman Flowers said the proposal is currently before the Prime Minister and they are asking for any salary increases for Legal Service Officers to be implemented for all other civil servants.

“We say it’s in front of the Prime Minister, and we say we oppose it. We will oppose this, and if there is an increase in the salaries of legal services officers, this increase must apply to every public officer, to every public officer…” Flowers said.

William M. Mayer