The woes of public servants

President of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke during a press conference at the PSA headquarters. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale - AYANNA KINSALE
President of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke during a press conference at the PSA headquarters. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale - AYANNA KINSALE

THE EDITOR: It has been over 15 years since I became a public servant. Ever since I joined the service we have been fighting tirelessly for the same issues and our complaints seem to have fallen on deaf ears. It seems like my children will become adults and they too will have to face the same issues that we are currently facing.

Despite what critics may say, there still remains a vast amount of dedicated and hard-working public servants who burn the midnight oil to ensure that our clients are efficiently taken care of. Within recent times, since covid19 visited our shores, life for public servants has been nothing but hard work, dedication, sacrifice and no compensation.

When the decision was made to send all public servants back to work, the challenge of having to choose between our jobs and our children became an ongoing issue. Even now, during this rotational period, supervisors are still hesitant to give time off to staff, who must be at home to monitor their children while they are facing the trials of online classes. This has resulted in employees becoming depressed and stressed out, as a result of the difficulties of having to balance work, school and home.

Further to this dilemma, since the year begun, some public servants have been working without their acting salaries being paid, as acting approvals are not forthcoming. As if that’s not enough, people have been waiting for months to a year to get their first acting approvals.

Despite all these challenges, every day we faithfully go to work, going beyond the call of duty, coming in early, if we have to, working through our lunches and staying back late on afternoons to ensure that our ministers and secretaries are paid on time, in addition to all other stakeholders.

While life may be comfortable for some, we are forced to borrow from financial institutions in order to make ends meet. It’s a sad reality, since many of us rely solely on our acting salaries to get by.

Another crucial issue that we have been facing for quite some time now is the fact that we are not getting our appointments. I don’t know about our counterparts in Trinidad, but in Tobago people have been acting for as long as I can remember. It makes me wonder if we belong to Hollywood, as we are all actors in this public service movie.

Just imagine that positions as far as human resource officers and administrators are held by acting officers, who have no right to the positions they are in because they can be reverted to a lower position at any time. It leaves one to wonder: where are our goodly union leaders who portray themselves as “saviours” and rescuers but who are instead only interested in draining workers’ pockets and increasing union dues, so that they can reap their personal benefits, while public servants suffer in silence at the hands of their oppressors?

We are indeed mindful that covid19 has crippled our economy and has placed our country in a bad state but, on the other hand, businesses are raising their prices although our salaries remain the same. In fact, our salaries have remained stagnant since 2013 and it is extremely difficult to survive in a society where food prices are skyrocketing every day and almost everything has risen to an all-time high.

How long can we continue to work under these conditions? How long will we be neglected? How long will our complaints go unnoticed? It’s about time someone pays attention to our loud cries, since we are “termed” the backbone and engine room of ministries and departments in this country.


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"The woes of public servants"

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