What is a fair wage, salary in the public service


In this photo taken in January, workers from the National Marine and Maintenance Services Co Ltd (formerly CL Marine) hold signs protesting against low wages during a demonstration at the company’s Chaguaramas wharf. – FILE PHOTO/SHANE SUPERVILLE

There have been several attempts over the years to ensure fair systems of wage and salary administration by various ministers of public administration, hand in hand with the finance ministers of Trinidad and Tobago.

In particular, since civil servants of all levels and skill sets have been publicly excused from working on full pay during the various government-imposed “lockdowns”, to the immense resentment, jealousy and even bitterness of those in lockdown. -out without pay and whose taxes paid the wages of the happy officials whose condescension had so often in the past been accompanied by a disservice: the public.

There are different levels of occupational categories: Entrepreneurs, Singles, Owners, Itinerant, Street Vendors, Creative and Hospitality Workers, Elderly, Infant and Disabled Caregivers, Small and Medium Employers (SMS) , independent service providers, businesses with up to 100 employees, large multi-sector regional operations, and utility and state-owned companies. All have been largely swept away in a cashless lockdown, except for the latter.

In trying to restore the economy, wage structures are now under scrutiny…what is a fair wage or wage? How do you calculate one? Should it be part of a graduated structure? Related to other positions with similar skills and responsibilities? Or just give them what they ask for?

Wages and salaries of civil servants are usually published and tabled in Parliament (or were previously). The private sectors, all mentioned above and more, are subject to similar exercises on a regular and intermittent basis: either annually, every two or five years, depending on the economic health of the country, the market, the industrial sector and business profitability.

Labor arguments such as wage rates tied to employers’ ability to pay are not universally accepted by Caribbean labor courts and tribunals, as Corthesy and Roper soberly pointed out in Commonwealth Caribbean Employment and Labor Law, although this may be one of the factors taken into consideration.

One could not help but wonder, however, on what basis the salary levels were granted to the contract employees of the police listed in the audit report of the Central Audit Committee of the Ministry of Finance on the hiring of contract personnel by the TT Police Service over a period of four years. period from 2018 to 2021.

As reported in the media, it went from $54 million to $89 million. It had nothing to do with the John report. They were all contractors.

Since there was no explanation of which were under service contract and which were under service contract (two very different things), it is difficult to distinguish who received what and why.

The audit report stated that there was no input or oversight from the CPO, and that people received allowances and benefits for extra duties and overtime without working for them. No monitoring, no control.

The police human resources department must have been pulling their hair out. They had their job to do but were not able to do it. An employer’s primary responsibility, in theory anyway, is to maintain employee trust and act in good faith.

Fairness in pay rates and levels is essential to trust and the perception of fairness.

Remember, anyone who had to hire necessary staff through the CPO’s office will have a hard time blaming the TTPS for being away and doing their own thing. You are stuck between a rock and a hard place when your line minister demands quick results and your promotion depends on getting results despite delays and procrastination in that department, and you have been given a mandate to do something now.

What do you do when you simply don’t have the human resources to meet their demands?

It is also why many permanent secretaries know that having to go through traditionally lengthy and bureaucratic procurement procedures has in the past encouraged many other permanents, in the name of efficiency, to split contracts ‘supply in installments of all the less millions to make them seem not only within the scope of their allotments, but more or less plausible.

This is why repeated calls to review and redesign procurement processes, ignored for so many years, have frustrated public and private sector attempts at productivity. And driving people around the law because of a vote in parliament made, we are told, on the basis of political loyalty, not technical knowledge.

Every action has consequences that go far beyond the action itself. Splitting offers is against the old regulations, but so is repairing a vehicle on a public road or driving a donkey cart on a traffic lane or breaking a promise marriage, if applicable. But the law is forgotten in the name of opportunity.

Either that or in the bureaucratic procurement process, the action has to wait two years for clearance, then the production of three competitive proposals, a cost-benefit analysis for each, a review to see if, after all that time the proposition still makes sense or has gone up in price, then start again as supply chains have changed due to global weather and so on.

We know how important procedures are and how important it is to follow them. We also know that public regulatory processes need modernizing for decades, and haven’t, that’s why the digital revolution is so much touted, is underway but not yet implemented in legislation but , we suspect, has often been so in practice.

Some rightly insist on the importance of respecting the rules. Only the other side knows how urgent the project is. Often, in management, the urgent prevails over the important.